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Facebook is getting a dark mode makeover for mobile

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 06:19

Facebook is working on a dark mode for its mobile app giving you an alternative to the current stark white design.

Researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who frequently combs through code in search of new features, did some digging into the Android app, and discovered that Facebook was working on a new, darker look.

The dark color scheme is clearly still a work in progress, and Manchun Wong's discoveries show some of the problems that have dogged many other apps' dark modes, including dark colored text that's almost unreadable against a black background.

Nevertheless, it's a refreshing change for the app, which became even brighter and whiter with the launch of the new FB5 interface earlier this year. Whereas the app had previously made heavy use of the color blue, FB5 is dazzling, which can make for uncomfortable reading at night.

The FB5 design was applied to the apps for both Android and iOS, so it stands to reason that if the dark mode would be rolled out to both.

Dark times

Facebook is fairly late to the dark mode party, and there's no estimate of when the new interface will be available, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. By waiting, Facebook will be able to learn from the experiences of developers who have been quicker to create dark modes for their apps.

For example, Google is working on an update for Chrome that will stop the browser inverting the colors of all images in dark mode – something an image-heavy app like Facebook will want to avoid.

Via Android Police

Categories: Tech News

Look before you dive headlong into cloud

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 06:15

With soaring temperatures nearly touching 40 degrees Celsius in the UK, it’s made us think what does cloud adoption and swimming on a hot summer’s day have in common? 

Although the cloud adoption in the UK is outpacing the European average, local businesses of all sizes should never dive into either without first assessing the risks. With almost all technologies which have been developed and deployed, cloud comes with a ‘buyer beware’ label. Each cloud deployment should be configured to the appropriate needs and outcomes of a business. This means knowing what potential hazards lurk below the surface and how they could impact your dive or your application deployment.

Like a cool body of water on a hot day, cloud computing looks like a refreshing change of pace, but the potential risks underneath the surface include:

  • Unexpected expenses: Not understanding the known unknowns of cloud spending can really hurt businesses as it holds up valuable financial and human resources which can be used in other areas such as AI experimentation or IoT implementation. Cloud platforms make it really easy to deploy and spin up new resources, but this can lead to shadow IT issues, overprovisioning, and wasted spend. Data from ParkMyCloud shows that between idle resources and overprovisioning, wasted cloud spend will exceed $1.4 billion (£1.12 billion) in 2019.
  • Security and governance issues: Even though you’ve outsourced the infrastructure, you’re still on the hook for security. Billions of records were exposed in 2018 due to improper cloud configuration. Simple things like accidently setting an AWS S3 bucket to public instead of private can leave sensitive data exposed to the masses. A CyberSecurity Insiders survey reports that 93 percent of enterprises are worried about public cloud security - not sure why the other 7 percent aren’t worried! With regulators across the globe heavily penalising those organisations which fall foul of data protection laws such as GDPR and CCPA, no one can leave data governance in the corner.
  • Performance issues, particularly for applications that span multiple platforms: If you’re moving an existing application to the cloud, its dependencies on cloud databases and third-party services may be impacted in unexpected ways, leading to slow down and poor performance. Again, you outsourced the infrastructure, but you’re still on the hook for performance.

In a recent IDC survey, 80 percent of respondents reported pulling back workloads from public cloud environments because of such issues. Without proper planning, the process of moving to the cloud is not easy and can result in limited success. Does this mean you should abandon your cloud plans? No, but you should follow a cloud-smart approach to ensure your cloud adoption goes smoothly and efficiently, from selection to deployment.

A cloud-smart strategy includes:

  • Defining business goals for cloud migration. Maybe costs do end up being higher, but if you’re gaining speed to market and greater flexibility, those goals might outweigh the cost increase. Don’t go to the cloud because you think everyone else is doing it. Successful cloud deployments must define businesses goals from the start.
  • Determine which workloads move and to what cloud. Not all clouds are created equal or cost the same to operate. There are tools available that can help you compare the cost of running your current workloads on AWS vs Azure vs private cloud. More often than not businesses are adopting a multi-cloud approach as they pair the workload to the cloud environment which would work best. Modeling the potential costs in advance has huge advantages as you have visibility on what you need to spend and able to mitigate spikes in data traffic caused by an event such as Cyber Monday in retail.
  • Balance the need for access. Cloud services can make it easy to build and deploy new services, but there is a delicate balance between operational needs and access. If the cloud service takes longer to provision than the system it replaced, that’s a lost benefit.
  • Governance and security are still important. Yes, cloud providers help with security by keeping underlying systems secure, but it’s still your organization’s responsibility to ensure proper configurations and governance. A missed security configuration could result in a data breach or a violation of regulations, either of which could be very costly to the business.

It’s also important to remember that being cloud-smart means you don’t set up your cloud configuration and forget it. You need consistent, proactive monitoring across your cloud services to meet business and customer demands without worrying about incurring unknown costs or leaving data exposed to malicious attackers. This is where automation can help to reduce the hours IT staff are putting in to monitor your cloud services and freeing staff to develop and create new, revenue-generating services. 

Like a cool plunge in this hot summer, your cloud experience can be refreshing if you take a few precautions in advance and continually assess potential risks.


Paul Cant is the Vice President EMEA at BMC Software.

Categories: Tech News

System Shock 2 will soon get an ‘enhanced edition’ with better multiplayer

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 06:00

System Shock 2 is getting revamped with an enhanced edition by Nightdive Studios, as many PC gamers will doubtless be very pleased – or at least intrigued – to hear.

The overhauled take on this seriously spooky sci-fi shooter, which features one of the creepiest antagonists in PC gaming history – SHODAN, an unhinged rogue AI – is reportedly now in development and ‘coming soon’.

Nightdive is currently working on a full remake of the first System Shock, which is pegged for a 2020 release (at least on Steam), and the studio has already produced an enhanced edition of this original outing.

This fresh take on System Shock 2 will seemingly run along similar lines to the latter, although it's not yet clear exactly what Nightdive is planning to change – aside from one element.

Multiplayer overhaul

Fans on Twitter have already pointed out that there are already lots of community mods that considerably improve System Shock 2 gameplay and visuals. When prodded about exactly what would be different with Nightdive’s version, the CEO responded as follows:

That’s an interesting nugget of info, and certainly, there are folks out there who are hoping the co-op mode will get fixed up, so perhaps that’s one element of Nightdive’s plans here. Others see multiplayer as a lesser consideration, and indeed some argue that System Shock 2 is a game best experienced alone – at least on your first play through – as the solitude adds to the creepy atmosphere.

At any rate, that’s the only indication of what’s planned thus far, although further details will be imparted soon, the developer promises. Plenty of folks are clamoring for details on what platforms might be covered aside from Windows (whether Linux will be supported by the enhanced edition, for example) but we’ll just have to wait and see.

System Shock 2 was first released way back in 1999, and Nightdive’s announcement coincides with the 20th anniversary of the game.

Via PC Gamer

Categories: Tech News

Transparent OLED is growing – but are see-through TVs on their way?

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 05:48

LG Display, the TV maker behind the world's first rollable OLED TV, is ramping up production of its transparent OLED displays.

As reported by Pulse News, LG is looking to double its output of the commercial displays, which are aimed at storefronts and public advertisements – though the question remains of whether transparent TVs could end up being pushed for the home, which seems increasingly likely as manufacture scales up even more.

LG is currently the market leader for commercial displays worldwide, with 39.7% of sales for the start of 2019 – though the company is said to be looking to increase the percentage of OLEDs in that output from around 20-30% to over 50%.

See right through you

There's a clear case for transparent signage and displays in public spaces, given the practicality of being able to view from either the front or back – ideal for customers roaming stores and wanting to be see information from various angles. OLED screens, too, are generally better for off-axis viewing than their LCD counterparts (though the Ultra Viewing Angle technology in Samsung's 2019 lineup is catching up).

The greater expense of manufacture for a see-through display, however, makes it a less common feature in home televisions. That could be set to change.

A subsidiary of LG's rival manufacturer Samsung filed a patent for something called a 'Window TV' last year, which would likely add to the company's range of lifestyle TVs – such as Samsung The Frame, or Samsung The Wall. There's little to go on aside from the name at the moment, though it suggests a commercially-available transparent TV is likely on the way.

TV maker Panasonic has also unveiled a prototype transparent TV (see image below), which uses "high contrast light film" in between two panes of glass to reproduce images "even in brightly lit environments" (via However, we're yet to hear anything like a retail price or release date.

We know LG is working on a transparent, foldable smartphone, with a rollable OLED television coming to shelves before the year is out. It's certainly experimenting with some new form factors, even if these features will be the recourse of high-earners rather than the average gadget buyer.

We've been here before

Right now, Samsung doesn't work in OLEDs. The company dropped the technology to develop its competing QLED displays, which are essentially LCD TVs with enhanced brightness – and a quantum dot filter to enhance the contrast of the images onscreen.

Samsung also previously offered transparent OLED models, though ditched the venture back in 2016, likely due to poor sales. At the time, an external source told TechRadar that this was because "the global quantity is not high enough for Samsung to justify the investment [in Transparent OLED]."

So, could transparent televisions make a comeback? As ever, a cool feature that piques the public interest doesn't always translate to sales. But if transparent OLEDs continue to sell well in commercial displays, it may not be too much of a stretch – or an expense – for LG or its rivals to start offering transparent televisions for the home, even in a small number.

Via OLED-info

Categories: Tech News

How Moscow became a smart city

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 05:45

When discussing smart cities, we tend to look towards the future at a world where everything and everyone are even more connected thanks to new technologies like 5G and AI

However, the Russian capital of Moscow has already made significant progress in becoming a smart city by using technology to improve the lives of its residents.

TechRadar Pro spoke with the head of Moscow’s IT department and former Minister of IT, Eduard Lysenko to learn more about the city’s e-government services.

Categories: Tech News

Nikon reportedly registers another camera, but will it be a Z-series mirrorless model?

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 05:29

Is Nikon's next Z-series mirrorless camera about to land? After reports that Nikon has registered a model for wireless certification, it's starting to look more likely.

Japanese camera rumors site Nokishita has spotted that a model with the code name N1912 has been registered with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in Indonesia. There's no clue as to what the model is, however, only that it's due for recertification three years from now, in 2022.

The Nikon Z6 was announced in August last year.

The news comes after months of rumors as to how the company will expand its Z mirrorless system. The line is almost due to blow out the candles on its first birthday cake, and while a number of lenses have been added since its inception, the line is still based around the two Z6 and Z7 (pictured top) that were announced at the outset. 

So what's likely?

While these new details don't suggest the model will belong to any particular format, Nikon has previously stated that it would be concentrating on medium- to high-end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, in addition to lenses for these systems.

That hasn't stopped it from releasing affordable compacts and the entry-level Nikon D3500 DSLR, but the company is no doubt aware that it will only be able to appeal to a certain demographic with two similar Z-series models – and an entry-level Nikon Z-system camera is precisely what would make sense right now.

Nikon currently doesn't have an entry-level mirrorless equivalent to its popular D3500 DSLR

We've heard rumors of the Nikon Z1, Z3, Z5 and Z9, and no doubt at some point there will be an option to satisfy both those on a budget and those demanding D5-level performance, and everyone in between. But with the recent leak of images from a patent that show the design of a model without a viewfinder, it seems that it will be the more affordable end of the Z-series spectrum that gets some attention first.

Alternatively, could this be another DSLR? Quite possibly, although with the D850 remaining a popular choice for all kinds of applications, it perhaps makes sense that Nikon should focus on a more junior option, such as an update to the D7500 or D500, or a Nikon D6 model that would update the pro-sports-focused D5.

Categories: Tech News

Mystery Motorola phone leak may be our first look at Moto G8

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 05:06

Motorola has adopted the notch to allow for more screen on its recent devices like the Moto G7 series and the Motorola One Vision, but a new leak suggests it may have a new tactic to allow for even more screen on future devices.

Based on a new image from Evleaks (a reliable leaker), Motorola is seemingly preparing a notch-less handset that looks to have an almost all-screen front.

There's still a bit of a chin below the screen that allows for the Motorola logo to be there looking out at you, but there's no cut-out or notch to provide room for a selfie camera.

Via Evleaks

So where is the selfie camera? It may be that Motorola has adopted the pop-up camera we've seen on devices like the Vivo Nex and OnePlus 7 Pro to allow for even more display without a notch.

The interesting thing is that Evleaks isn't certain what device is pictured, and we're not too sure either.

It's unlikely to be the previously rumored Motorola One Zoom, as that is expected to sport the same sort of notch design as we saw on the Moto G7 range. 

That may mean this is an early glimpse at the Moto G8, which we don't expect to see until 2020.

This may turn out to be a totally new device though that's not part of any existing range, so we could hear about a new handset from Motorola in the near future that comes with this new notch-less design. For now, we'll have to wait and see.

Via Phone Arena

Categories: Tech News

Netflix's The Crown reigns once more this November

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 05:04

It's official: Netflix's Emmy award-winning series The Crown, will reign over our screens once more, returning for a third season on November 17.

The historical drama, which documents the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, will feature an entirely new cast, with recent Oscar winner Olivia Colman taking over from Claire Foy in the lead role.

Joining Coleman are Helena Bonham Carter, who will play the rebellious Princess Margaret, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, as well as Emerald Fennel as Camilla Parker Bowles. 

You can get a first glimpse of Coleman in the role in the trailer below:

Changing times

Where seasons one and two of The Crown focused on Elizabeth's early reign, season three should see the Queen becoming more secure in her role as head of the Commonwealth, and head of the royal family. 

This period involved a great deal of change for the monarch, which we will see in season three; this includes Harold Wilson's time as Prime Minister, the decolonization of Africa and the Caribbean, the Apollo 11 moon landing, and Princess Margaret's scandalous affair and subsequent divorce.

Season three could well be the most dramatic yet; although, season four does promise the arrival of Lady Diana Spencer and the notorious premiership of Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female Prime Minister. 

Via Engadget

Categories: Tech News

New Samsung phone battery tech could be a huge boost to Galaxy S12

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 04:58

Smartphone batteries could see a major overhaul in the next few years thanks to the introduction of graphene batteries, and Samsung phones could be the first to see the new tech.

That's according to reliable industry leaker Evan Blass, who tweeted claiming that Samsung will have one smartphone with a graphene battery by late 2020 or early 2021.

Blass wrote: "Lithium-ion batteries are...suboptimal. Samsung is hoping to have at least one handset either next year or in 2021, I'm told, which will feature a graphene battery instead. Capable of a full charge in under a half-hour, they still need to raise capacities while lowering costs."

Graphene has started to gain the moniker of tech's 'wonder material' thanks to its many properties. These include the ability to charge up incredibly quickly, to keep cool under intense pressure, and to last for a long time. 

Graphene is starting to make waves in the tech industry, and we've run through 40 ways graphene is about to change your life, which includes these benefits.

A Samsung phone with a graphene battery could have a seriously impressive battery life, and it would be novel technology for a competitive phones industry. The Huawei Mate 20 X used a graphene cooling system, but as battery material the tech is yet to find its way into new smartphones.

Which Samsung phone could have a graphene battery?

Evan Blass states the tech could come 2020 or 2021 – due to the uncertainty between those years we don't expect to see the tech in the Samsung Galaxy S11, which will be out around February 2020, as that's pretty early for a tech that might not be out that whole year.

The two obvious choices therefore are the Samsung Galaxy Note 11, the successor to the Galaxy Note 10, we're expecting to see in August 2020, or the Galaxy S12, which will be out early 2021. Both will be flagship devices, so it would make sense for Samsung to debut a technology in them that could be the future of smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy A80 was a testing ground for new Samsung tech.

One other possible phone would be a future Galaxy A smartphone. Samsung has previously used this more affordable range as a testing ground for new ideas, like with the Samsung Galaxy A80 which has a novel pop-up flipping back camera panel, and if it were to test out graphene tech it could do so on one of these phones before a wider rollout.

The tech coming in a Galaxy A phone is backed up by Evan Blass slating the tech for a future "phone", singular, as the S and Note phones always come out in series with multiple different phones. However each Galaxy A handset is stand-alone, so it would make sense for the tech to come in just one device.

We don't know for sure right now which phone the graphene battery will come in, and if Blass' timeline is right, it'll be a long time before we do (unless, of course, another company beats Samsung to the punch). For now, though, know that phones might last a lot longer in the future.

Categories: Tech News

DJI’s upcoming Mavic Mini drone to bring 4K recording to the masses

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 04:38

DJI is set to release its cheapest 4K drone yet with the Mavic Mini that is expected to bring 4K recording capabilities for $399.

DJI has become the go-to choice for most prosumers and hobbyists for its range of smart drones that bring exceptional picture quality and range. The lineup starts with the $99 DJI Tello which is a toy drone and goes all the way up to Phantom series. Until now, the most affordable 4K drone was the Mavic Air, which is priced at around $800 (INR 57,000). It seems like that is about to change with the new DJI Mavic Mini.

DroneDJ was able to get a few images of this upcoming drone from the Chinese patent filing, and it looks like a cross between the Mavic Air and the Spark. The Spark is long due for a refresh, and the Mavic Mini seems like the most apparent replacement to it, especially considering the same starting price of $399 (INR 28,500). 

 DJI Mavic Mini specifications 

Portability is expected to be a big part of DJI’s new series of drones and will weigh around 350g and will be 270mm long diagonally when unfolded. The Spark was a tiny drone but would not fold, making it difficult to transport, so these foldable arms are a welcome change. 

As for optics, the DJI Mavic Mini will have a 12MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that will be capable of recording videos at 4K and 1080p at up to 60fps. The camera module will be mounted on a 3-axis gimbal. It will also have DJI’s advanced wi-fi communication tech for an extended range. Considering that the Spark has a range of 2kms with the remote controller, the Mavic Mini should also have a range of about 2,000m or more.

The images also reveal a micro USB port and a micro SD card slot under the battery bay. But considering that all recent DJI drones have a USB Type-C connector, the Mavic Mini could make a switch to that by the time it reaches the markets.

If these rumours are indeed true, the DJI Mavic Mini will pose tough competition to every other drone maker and extend their lead in the drone space. There are some other drones that offer 4K recording at this price, and even fewer that have smart sensors and obstacle avoidance as robust as DJI’s. These lower priced drones should do well in price sensitive markets such as India, where drone adoption is just about to pick up. 

DJI has an event scheduled for August 13, where we could hear more about the Mavic Mini.

Categories: Tech News

The best iPhone 8 Plus deals and UK contracts in August 2019

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 04:35

Apple makes some of the best phones out there but obviously with that comes a pretty big price tag. With devices such as the iPhone XS Max and XR costing eye-watering prices, it can make sense to go back a models and pick yourself up one of Apple's older plus size models. 

This is where the iPhone 8 Plus deals come in. If you want one of the newest large screened Apple smartphones, but the price of the iPhone XS make you feel dizzy, then the 8 Plus will be the one for you.

So how are iPhone 8 Plus prices looking. On average, if you shop wisely (using our price comparison chart below) you'll save yourself around £300 if you go for this handset over the iPhone X. We've seen monthly tariffs as low as the £25 region if you're prepared to stick a wedge down upfront.

Still feeling a bit overwhelmed by these prices? Don't forget that iPhone 8 deals are also available if you'd prefer the smaller smartphone, along with the smaller prices. And you can save £10 on the upfront cost of any iPhone 8 Plus deal at by using the voucher code 10OFF at the checkout.

See also: iPhone X deals | iPhone 8 deals | iPhone XS Max | Samsung Galaxy Note 8 deals | Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus deals | Best mobile phone deals | Best SIM only deals

The 5 best iPhone 8 Plus deals you can get in the UK right now: iPhone 8 Plus price: how much does it cost?

A mighty £699. That's how much the 64GB iPhone 8 Plus will cost you in the UK according to the RRP. That might seem like a lot but that's one hundred pounds cheaper than when it first came out.

Need more memory? Then your only other option is spending an extra £150 and grabbing a £849 256GB iPhone 8 Plus. 

If you opt to buy the iPhone 8 Plus upfront without a contract you will save money in the long run, but of course £699 is a lot of money to pay. If you can afford it though it the way to go once you pair it with a cheap SIM only deal.

This is the iPhone you want if you can't quite afford the iPhone X or iPhone XS Max. It's got the larger battery, same powerful innards and strong camera. If you don't mind the poorer screen, it's a good option - and the screen is still a beaut. And we prefer it quite a lot more to the regular iPhone 8.

Read more in TechRadar's full iPhone 8 Plus review

Categories: Tech News

The best iPhone 6S deals and UK contracts in August 2019

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 04:25

When it comes to Apple, there is a clear divide between its top of the line flagship devices with their massive price tags, and Apple's earlier, far more affordable devices with their mid-range specs - the iPhone 6S falls into the latter category.

We've had a fair few new iPhones since the 6S, we've had the 8's, iPhone X's and now the iPhone XS Max (bit of a mouthful really). The good news here is that these new releases have driven the prices of the iPhone 6S way, way down. Sub-£20 a month tariffs appear quite frequently now, so getting a great deal on Apple's 2015 flagship phone makes it a great budget option if you don't want to spend the earth on your new iPhone deal.

If you want more than the minimum of data, then check out our comparison chart below, or head straight down to our pick of the best tariffs on the web.

The 6S may be one of iPhone's older phones now, but it still features a lot of the features we have come to expect from flagships. It has improved battery life and 3D touch, where you can press a bit harder on the screen to get a different response.

See also: iPhone 8 deals | iPhone 7 deals | iPhone deals | iPhone SE deals | Samsung Galaxy S9 deals | Best mobile phone deals | iPhone 6S review

The top 5 best iPhone 6S deals in the UK this month:

We've gone all Top of the Pops to show you our favourite five iPhone 6S deals on the market right now - we'll give you a clue...they're much cheaper than the iPhone XS! Read about all of the best iPhone 6S deals here, including tariffs on EE, O2 and Vodafone.

It may be very similar to its predecessor, but there's no denying that the iPhone 6s makes a fantastic alternative to the more expensive Apple devices like the iPhone 8 and iPhone XR. The phone works fluidly at nearly every task and will cost you a lot less than Apple's current flagships. Low end cost with high end features 

Read TechRadar's full iPhone 6S review

Categories: Tech News

HTC gunning for a comeback to the Indian smartphone market on August 14

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 02:49

HTC is finally re-entering the Indian smartphone market on August 14 with a new smartphone that will be available via Flipkart.

HTC stopped its India operations in July 2018, failing to keep up with the Chinese competition that brought much higher value for money offerings to the market. The subsequent months saw India become the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world and the adoption kept going up. It wasn’t just India where HTC where was struggling as their global market share dipped below 1%. 

Unsurprisingly, the allure of the lucrative Indian market has brought them back. Reports from earlier this month state that HTC will be returning with a new series of smartphones, tailor-made for the local market and possibly compete with the offerings from Redmi and Realme in that have captured the market in a few short years. 

A teaser video of the new phone was shared by HTC and Flipkart which talks about all the innovations that it has brought to the smartphone game, starting with touch-sensitive displays, the first Android handset, metal bodies, an optically stabilized front camera, etc. and ends with the outline of an unknown handset with slim bezels and a waterdrop notch. Earlier rumours suggested that this would be a high-end phone but it’s more likely to be a mid-ranger now. 

 HTC Wildfire? 

A piece by GSMArena suggests that this upcoming HTC smartphone is likely to be a new HTC Wildfire which is a mid-ranger. The purported specifications include MediaTek Helio P23 chipset with 3GB of RAM. The display is expected to be around 6.2-inches in size with an HD+ resolution.

The back houses the dual camera module, with a 16MP primary shooter and a secondary 5MP sensor. The front camera is also a 16MP unit and the battery is rated at 3,500 mAh. 

These specifications put the phone squarely in the budget category, where the competition offers Snapdragon 600 or 700 series processors. HTC will really have to nail the pricing on this one if they hope to capture a piece of the Indian market.

Categories: Tech News

EE still UK's best network, but Vodafone is strong second

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 02:01

EE has once again been name the best mobile network in the UK by independent testers RootMetrics, but Vodafone has established itself as the company’s nearest competitor during the first half of 2019.

The BT-owned operator either won or shared top spot in all six testing categories, but Vodafone finished a “strong second” in multiple categories. This included the overall category, as well as reliability, speed, data, call and text.

RootMetrics said investments in Vodafone’s network, such as the rollout of carrier aggregation technology in major cities, was paying dividends. It noted the “excellent reliability” of the Vodafone network as well as improvements in speed.

UK network testing

Indeed, Vodafone recorded the single fastest average median speed of 51.7Mbps in Liverpool. Vodafone also had the best network in Wales.

However EE remains the network to beat – as it has done in virtually every round of testing conducted by RootMetrics since it entered the UK market a number of years ago. In addition to its UK title, EE remains the strongest in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Three finished third in every category, but RootMetrics said this largely reflected improvements made by competitors rather than the decreasing quality of Three’s network. Testers noted consistent speeds and solid reliability but also found that Three has the lowest 4G footprint in the UK.

Finally, O2 ranked joint third or fourth in every category. Again, this is not necessarily because O2 is getting worse but because of the performance of EE, Three and Vodafone. O2 remains strong in Northern Ireland and broke the 20Mbps threshold for average median speed in a number of major cities.

Testers say that new network technologies, coupled with the rollout of new spectrum, could see improvements in the near future.

As ever, speed isn’t everything, but it is the metric that attracts the most headlines. RootMetrics found that EE had the fastest aggregate median download speed of 37.6Mbps, beating Vodafone’s 21.7Mbps. Three was third with 13.6Mbps and O2 last with 11.1Mbps.

However in metro areas, Vodafone’s Liverpool speed was the fastest, followed by EE with 45.7Mbps, O2 with 25.4Mbps and Three with 19Mbps.

The next set of tests will see the impact of 5G for the first time. Both EE and Vodafone have launched their 5G services, with O2 and Three set to follow later this year.

Categories: Tech News

Best phones under Rs 25,000 in India for August 2019

Tue, 08/13/2019 - 01:46

While 2018 saw some very good smartphones being launched above Rs 30,000, most smartphone makers left the Rs 20-30,000 segment open to be exploited. While the Asus Zenfone 5Z was often available at sub-Rs 25,000 prices, it lost the battle to the highly popular Poco F1.

Seeing the success of the Poco F1, Xiaomi announced the Redmi K20 series, with prices starting at Rs 21,999. This sparked competition in the sub-Rs 25,000 smartphone segment in India.

There are options that offer great value in the segment. If you are finding it difficult to find the best suited phone under Rs 25,000, this list will help. 

  • Don't need to worry about cost? Check out our best phone list

The Redmi K20, the recently launched mid-range smartphone from Xiaomi’s Redmi brand has been designed keeping in mind the criticisms the company faced with its affordable flagship device, the Poco F1. With the device, the company has offered a premium device at an affordable price to take on the increasing competition in the smartphone segment.

The Redmi K20 features a glass back, a Full HD+ AMOLED display, a triple rear camera setup, a pop-up selfie camera and an under-display fingerprint sensor. The device starts at Rs 21,999 in India and is available in three attractive color options.

Xiaomi has dominated the budget and entry-level smartphone segments for a long time now. This is no different this year either - the launch of the Redmi Note 7 Pro changed the market dynamics yet again. Offering a high-resolution, premium-grade 48MP camera at budget prices was the primary clincher for the Redmi Note 7 Pro.

Apart from its imaging capabilities, the Redmi Note 7 Pro offers a great bang for your buck thanks to the great display, a well-balanced chipset and battery life that we've all grown to expect from Xiaomi's Redmi Note series.

Topping it all off is the glass design which gives it a premium look.

It has a great value for money quotient which is why the Redmi Note 7 Pro is the phone to buy.

The Realme X is another device that offers excellent value for money in the sub-Rs 25,000 segment. It features a pop-up selfie camera and comes with a gradient back design. The company has offered a near bezel less display with the device, giving it a premium look.

Along with the pop-up selfie camera, the device also sports an in-display fingerprint sensor, making it one of the most affordable devices to feature these two technologies. It has a starting price tag of Rs 16,999 and is available in three color options.

The Samsung Galaxy A50 has a lot going for it. The device features a glossy finish and sports an attractive display, a triple camera setup that includes a good daylight camera, and decent battery life with fast charging support all make it a phone that’s worth considering when you go out to buy a new smartphone.

While the Galaxy A50 performs well in daylight, its low-light images are not up to the mark. If you are a heavy gamer, you might want to skip this device and look at the other devices mentioned in this list.

The device is available starting at Rs 18,490 in Black, Blue and White color options.

Read the full review here

Vivo has upped its game in the budget and mid-range segments over the last few months in India. While a few other smartphones are aimed specifically at a slightly younger audience, Vivo has tried to offer a slightly more rounded package with the Z1 Pro.

The Z1 Pro is also one of the few smartphones in this price range to sport a punch hole notch. If you are looking for a smartphone that offers really long battery life, the Z1 Pro won't let you down with its massive 5,000mAh battery. The display, camera and the glossy design round off the remaining important aspects.

The Poco F1, the only launch so far from Xiaomi’s sub-brand Poco is a feature packed mid-range device. It is the cheapest Snapdragon 845 powered device in India and with the recent price cuts, it offers even more value for your money. While the device’s design is something that the company has compromised on, the Poco F1 is durable with a sturdy plastic build.

If you prefer performance over looks, the Poco F1 is the device for you. It is priced starting at Rs 17,999 in India.

Pocophone F1 review

The Honor Play, as the name suggests was launched keeping in mind the gamers. The device’s powerful internals coupled with a huge screen and a premium look makes for an all-round impressive device.

If you are looking for a gaming phone or a secondary phone, the Honor Play with its affordable price is worth looking into. The device is priced starting at Rs 12,999 in India.

Honor Play review

Categories: Tech News

Scam callers posing as Australian NBN providers are at an all-time high

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 22:40

Scammers are generally quick to adopt strategies that involve new and unknown territories in order to baffle their prey, and with much of Australia getting ready to jump on board the NBN, it’s no surprise they’ve started exploiting this fact.

NBN Co has released a statement claiming that it has received a total of 9,500 calls over the last three months (an average of over 100 per day) with residents and businesses reporting that they had been targeted by a scam caller posing as an employee of the company itself.

Considering that this figure only takes into account the number of cases that have actually been reported, it’s fair to assume that there's a great many more unreported calls, and that it’s occurring much more often than the 100 reported cases per day.

How they scam

Posing as an authority figure working with NBN Co, scammers have apparently been attempting to coerce personal and financial details out of their targets, sometimes even asking for remote access to the victim’s computer.

NBN Co’s statement is being made as part of an awareness drive to alert customers – both prospective and existing – to the dangers of these scammers and the steps to best avoid them.

The company hopes that it will simultaneously save these customers from being ripped off, but also not deter them from making the switch to the NBN due to a lack of trust.

How to avoid getting scammed

The most significant and underlying point made by NBN Co’s chief security officer, Darren Kane is that, “As NBN Co is a wholesaler, we will never contact residents or businesses to sell phone or internet services.”

Kane continues, “We will never make unsolicited calls or door knock for the purposes of seeking access to people’s computer, threaten to disconnect your services or request personal or financial details.”

The only parties that will actively try and sell you an NBN service are Retail Service Providers (RSPs), such as Telstra and Optus. That doesn't mean scammers aren't posing as the latter either, however; TechRadar's Australian office has itself received at least half a dozen scam calls over the last few months, with many claiming to represent Telstra. As such, if you receive a call claiming to be from any one of these businesses, exercise a large degree of caution when handing over personal details and, if in doubt, just hang up.

NBN Co has a dedicated page on protecting yourself from scams for anyone seeking further details.

Categories: Tech News

The best cheap Apple Watch prices and sales in August 2019

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 22:11

This is your guide to the best Apple Watch prices and sales that are currently available online. The Apple device is the most popular smartwatch on the market, so finding the best deals can be a difficult task.

However, with the recent introduction of the Apple Watch 4, the 'standard' price for the Apple Watch 3 has dropped from $329/£329  to $199/£279, making it and other older Apple Watches more affordable, especially with additional discounts.

Sure, the Apple Watch 4 is one of the best watches money can buy, but for most people, the Series 3 will more than suffice. Plus, you can still find decent prices on the Series 2 and Series 1 watches, although we'd recommend that you look at the Watch 4 or Watch 3 to get the best experience.

Below you'll find all of the best Apple Watch sales we've found, from the Series 1 watch to the latest Apple Watch 4. We also threw in a few places to buy Apple Watch bands a little more cheaply than you can pick them up from Apple.

The Apple Watch is available in four variations: 40mm and 44mm sizes, and with or without cellular / LTE service, with prices accordingly. You're currently unlikely to find this watch at lower than its list price, but be sure to check back regularly as we'll be updating with any deals we find during the Black Friday period.

The regular Apple Watch 3 delivered minimal upgrade from the Series 2. Still, it remains a top-tier device in terms of fitness and longevity, with run and cycle tracking on board and a water-resistant casing for swimming, plus the a heart rate monitor on the underside. And the LTE version comes with cellular connectivity so you can use it independently from your phone.

The Apple Watch 2 isn't being sold by Apple, but it's still being pushed around by various retailers for those who want an older watch on the cheap. It includes specs and features not available on the cheaper Apple Watch Series 1. This includes GPS tracking, a brighter screen and waterproof specs that allow you to wear it in the pool.

Right - let's clear this up: there are multiple Nike+ editions of the Apple Watch. The first is the Nike+ Apple Watch Series 2, the second the Nike+ Apple Watch Series 3 and the third... you've guessed it... the Nike+ Apple Watch Series 4.

Each is virtually identical to the 'standard' version of the Watch they're related to, apart from different (and really rather nice) rubberised straps that you can't easily buy separately and new watch faces.

Other than that, they don't really offer a lot more other than a stylistic option - and of course they're 'designed' to be use with the Nike app.

So if you're seeing the Nike+ Apple Watch for cheap, make sure it's not the Series 2 model... although that one is perfectly good enough in our eyes, and offers all the advantages minus the LTE connectivity.

The Apple Watch Series 1 is actually the best Apple Watch for most people who aren’t all-star runners and avid swimmers, with most of the specs you need on a smartwatch. 

This is a 'refreshed' Apple Watch compared to the original Apple Watch below, so it has a faster dual-core processor and better battery life as a result. 

It runs all the same WatchOS 4 software, which brings some decent improvements and, best of all, the original Watch costs a lot less than the models above.

If you don’t need to track GPS runs and swim with it on, you’ll save money. The discounted Apple Watch Series 1 still comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, but only has the more economical aluminum case and Sport band, although it's still good value despite the limited choice.

Your Apple Watch literally isn’t complete without the best deals on Apple Watch bands. They make the geeky smartwatch stylish enough to show off to late adopters.

In fact, you’re going to want multiple cheap Apple Watch straps simply because more elegant bands are far from ideal for the gym. Vice versa, Sport Bands don’t cut it at the fancy dinner table.

Everyday in the news, we see new cheap Apple Watch bands trying to become the de facto alternative to the more expensive, official Apple Watch bands, and they’re usually just as good. Trust us, buying a trio of third-party, lookalike Apple Watch bands for the price of one official strap is a relief after paying so much for the smartwatch itself. Plus, you'll want to save up for an Apple Watch 3 upgrade.

Categories: Tech News

Fingerprint verification rolling out to a number of Google websites on Android

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 21:58

Practically everything we do online these days requires a password and, to ensure the security of our digital lives, we're all advised to use a different password for each service. But unless you use a password manager (something we'd strongly recommend) or have a superb memory, remembering those passwords can get a tad difficult. 

One of those passwords will likely be for your Google account – something you use to log into services like Gmail and YouTube, or just browser syncing on Google Chrome. However, the tech giant is keen on simplifying online logins by making it easier, and quicker, to securely access some of its own web services on Android devices without the need for a password.

Google has announced that it's rolling out a new feature that will allow Android device owners to use the fingerprint scanners on their phones, or their PIN unlock code, to authenticate Google accounts.

While individual apps have long been able to access and use Android's fingerprint authentication technology, this is the first time the company has allowed biometrics to be used to verify user identities on the web.

Safety first

Google's new password-less sign-in method is built on the FIDO2, W3C WebAuthn and FIDO CTAP standards that have been developed to help reduce our dependency on passwords. It's the same technology that allows Android devices to be used as physical security keys.

The technology is secure and is essentially a two-factor authentication method that uses a Bluetooth-based protocol to set up a device-specific security key. This key can then be used for secondary verification without the need for a password.

For this type of login method to work, though, it's essential that the handset has lock screen security enabled.

At the time of writing, it was unclear which Google services could be used with this new password-less login method, with the only example provided in the blog post currently being for the company's online Password Manager

However, Google has said that the new feature is currently being rolled out to Pixel phones first, and will arrive on devices running Android 7.0 Nougat or newer followin that, so it shouldn't be long before it becomes easier to log into other Google services through Chrome on Android.

Categories: Tech News

Best logo designer 2019: top logo generators, makers and creators for your business

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 16:30

In this guide to the best logo designer software, we show you the best tools – both free and paid for – that can give your business an iconic and recognisable logo and branding.

If you run a business, you'll know how important having a recognisable logo and branding is, but you're probably too busy to spend hours learning and using complex digital art applications – which is why we've made sure to include easy-to-use logo designers and generators in this best logo designer software list.

The best logo designer software will offer you all the tools you need to make eye-catching logos in a matter of minutes, yet they will also have enough depth and customisation options to ensure your logo stands out from the crowd.

When picking the best logo designer software for your needs, you'll want to make sure you get software that has an easy-to-use interface. It should be able to allow anyone to create a logo no matter if they are good at art. There should be a good balance of ready-made assets, as well as offering users the change to create their own artwork from scratch.

Above all, they should allow you to produce professional results. A badly-made logo that looks cheap (or is similar to other logos) can actually cause more harm to your business than no logo at all.

So, with that in mind, let's take a look at our pick of the best logo designer software of 2019.

Image credit: Adobe

The very best logo design software money can buy in 2019 is easily Adobe Illustrator. This is the software most professionals use, and with it you can create truly unique and impressive logos, and other marketing material. It comes with a huge amount of features to help you create your logo. This does mean the software can be overwhelming at first, and for beginners and smaller businesses, this may be overkill. However, if you (or an employee) have digital art and design experience, then Adobe Illustrator will be an essential tool. It's expensive, but with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription you can pay monthly and get the very latest features as they are released.

Image credit: Looka Logo Maker

If you're a complete beginner and don't have the time to learn how to use complex software for designing a logo, then Looka Logo Maker(previously known as Logojoy) is a great choice for you. It's a web based service that can auto generate logos - all you need to do is input your company's name, as well as provide information on what sort of company it is, as well as picking a few color choices. Looka Logo Maker will do the rest and will automatically generate a variety of logos. Although they are quite simplistic, they look good, and you can customise them further. You can use the logos Looka Logo Maker creates for you, or simply use it as inspiration to create your own logo using another service. You need to subscribe to see the logos and to use them in marketing materials.

Image credit: Summitsoft

Logo Design Studio Pro has been used by companies to make their logos for 17 years, and that expertise has led to a nicely-designed package that is easy to use, but offers enough tools to allow more experienced users to further customise their logos. It only takes a few minutes to create a good looking logo using Logo Design Studio Pro's collection of graphics and fonts. It offers over 500 different objects to add to your logo, and 120 unique fonts, and with a bit of time and care, you can make an eye-catching logo that suits your business.

Image credit: Shopify

You don't need an expensive image editing application and powerful PC to design your own logos, as Hatchful proves. It's a free service that makes it incredibly easy to design your own logos, and there's also versions for your Android smartphone or iPhone. It's incredibly easy to design your logo, just choose what sort of industry your business is in, your company's name and slogan and choose from what sort of artwork you're after. Hatchful then creates several potential logos for you, and you can then edit them using the app or through your web browser, then download them. Best of all, the service is completely free.

Image Credit: Squarespace

If you want a really simple, easy and quick tool for coming up with a logo for your business, then Squarespace Logo Creator is a good choice. Squarespace is better known as a company that provides web hosting and website creation tools, which are well known for their simple-to-use interfaces. Its logo creation tool is similar, and you can make a good looking logo for your company in a matter of seconds. You can tweak your logo using the web-based editor, though it's a bit limited in what it can do. You can download your logo in a low res form for free (and it's watermarked), or you can buy a high-res non-watermarked version for $10 (or it's free if you're already a Squarespace customer). If you've built your company's website with Squarespace, then its logo creation tool is definitely worth using.

Categories: Tech News

Best portable SSD of 2019: top external solid state drives

Mon, 08/12/2019 - 16:23

Welcome to TechRadar’s guide of the best portable SSDs on the market right now. We’re going to dive into all the most dependable portable SSDs that combine speed, capacity and mobility to ensure that you can safely keep all your important files during your travels.

Just like any other of the best SSDs, you’re going to need a capacious drive, so you won’t run out of space when backing up your important files, like photographs, while also making use of the inherent speed benefits of a solid state drive. 

So, when looking to buy the best portable SSD, you'll want to consider how much storage space it has. Around 500GB should be enough for many people, but if you want to store lots of large files, such as uncompressed videos, photos or music, then you should consider 1TB or higher of storage space.

You'll also want to consider what type of connection the portable SSD has. Older connections, such as USB 2.0, will cause a bottleneck, as the connection cannot transfer files as fast as the SSD can read and write.

So, the best portable SSDs, then, will come with a more modern connection for faster SSDS. USB 3.1 Type-C, or ideally Thunderbolt 3 will be the way to go. And, you should make sure that your laptop or computer supports these connections.

Read on to find out what our picks are of the best portable SSDs money can buy in 2019.

Samsung is a company that has made some brilliant portable SSDs, and you'll see a number of its devices on this list, however the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is our pick of the best portable SSD of 2018. It builds on the brilliant design and performance of its predecessor, the Samsung T3 SSD (also on this best portable SSD list), but brings it up to date with an incredibly fast USB Type-C connection that ekes out every last drop of performance from the solid state drive inside. Of course, it's also backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 if your PC doesn't have USB Type-C. It's expensive, but it's well worth the cash.

Read the full review: Samsung Portable SSD T5

Seagate is a well-known brand when it comes to storage, and it's brought its impressive experience to the portable SSD market with the brilliant Seagate Fast SSD. This is an impressively slim external SSD, at only 9mm thick with a footprint of 94 x 79mm. Best of all, it's affordable – with prices likely to drop – and it’s an excellent performer, relatively small, plus it has a nice design and a three-year warranty. Well worth considering if you're looking for a the best portable SSD for a low price.

Read the full review: Seagate Fast SSD 500GB

If you want speed above all else, and money is (almost) no object, than the Samsung X5 Portable SSD is the best portable SSD for you. It comes with a Thunderbolt 3 connection that takes full advantage of the super-fast speeds of the brilliant Samsung 970 Evo NVMe SSD that comes inside. However, that pure dedication to speed comes at some expense. First, there's the financial expense, as this is a pricey external SSD. It's also larger and bulkier than the Samsung T3 or Samsung T5, which are also on this list. The device is fairly heavy at 150g, triple the weight of the Samsung T5, and at 116 x 60 x 18mm, it can best be described as portable rather than miniature. However, when it comes to performance, the Samsung X5 Portable SSD is definitely the portable SSD to go for.

Read the full review: Samsung X5 Portable SSD

This small and compact external hard drive offers very decent speeds, as well as a rugged body that keeps it safe from water - as well as drops and knocks. It's not the fastest drive out there - as it's still reliant on the aging SATA technology, rather than the newer - and faster - NVMe tech, but for the money you're still getting a brilliant performer. Adata claims this is the most compact external SSD, and with dimensions of 72.7 x 44 x 12.2mm and weighing only 37g excluding the cable, it is smaller and lighter than Samsung’s T3 and T5 drives - which are also on this list of the best portable SSDs. While it is pricey compared to some of the other external SSDs we have on this list, remember that it comes with military-certified protection. The stringent MIL-STD-810G 516.6 impact resistance test so it should survive accidental drops and shocks without much damage. If you shop around, you can also get it for less than its RRP.

Storage giant Western Digital is no stranger when it comes to storage gear aimed specifically at pro photographers, and with the WD My Passport Wireless SSD it has created another brilliant device that photographers (or even regular users) will love. It joins WD's growing stable of wireless hard drives, which allow you to view and move files via a Wi-Fi connection, rather than with a cable, which is handy. However, over Wi-Fi, you're not utilising the full speed of the SSD. It also connects via USB 3.0, which offers very good speeds, but not quite as fast as USB Type-C or Thunderbolt. But the flexibility and durability of the WD My Passport Wireless SSD is certainly tempting, plus it comes with a built-in SD card reader, making it one of the best portable SSDs for photographers.

Read the full review: WD My Passport Wireless SSD

The Adata SD700 will suit those looking for a rugged storage device that can provide ample capacity without costing too much. It offers good speeds, and it's IP68 rated, which means you can carry it around with you without worrying about it getting damaged. It  comes in capacities up to 1TB, so you don't have to worry about missing out on storage space just because it uses an SSD. However, it doesn't come with the new USB Type-C connection, which means speeds aren't quite as fast as they could be.

Categories: Tech News