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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Tech News

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

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

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

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

Scary, isn’t it?

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

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

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

Beware the trade-in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The key is Game Pass

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

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

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

Image credit: Microsoft

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Tech News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

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

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

Read More: iPhone XS Max review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

Read more: Google Pixel 3 review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

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

Read More: Samsung Galaxy S10e review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

Read more: OnePlus 6T review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

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

Read more: Huawei P30 Pro review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

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

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

Read more: iPhone XR review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

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

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10 review

Image Credit: TechRadar

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

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

Read more: iPhone XS review

Categories: Tech News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the NHL playoffs on TV in the US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch and live stream NHL playoffs in Canada

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

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

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

Watch the NHL playoffs in the UK

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

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

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

Categories: Tech News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A war with no winners

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

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

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

Categories: Tech News

Sea Turtle hacking group goes after government domains

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

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

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

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

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

Sea Turtle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via TechCrunch

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

Google lets Android users choose browsers to ease EU antitrust concerns

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

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

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

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

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

More search and browser options

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via Reuters

Categories: Tech News

Best phone for gaming 2019: the top 10 mobile game performers

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 13:10

The best gaming phones in 2019 have become a big surprise. We now have dedicated gaming phones with souped-up specs to help improve gaming experiences, while others in this best gaming phones list are just the outright best phones.

Beyond any fancy gamer features, the best gaming phone should have a powerful processor, bright and sharp display, and a beefy battery to keep your phone alive even during long gaming sessions. To get the most out of demanding games like Fortnite and PUBG Mobile, you'll want a phone that's strong in all of those respects.

We've picked out phones that offer just what you need, with all the power to play these games lag-free even at max settings, letting you take the most advantage of their high-resolution, bright displays. And, if you opt for some of the newer phones on this list, you can count on their performance lasting for some time to come, helping you stay prepared for the next big games yet to come.

Our recommendations consider processor and GPU speeds, RAM size and other odds and ends. It also considers the app ecosystem, which is the lead reason Apple's iPhones frequently top the list. They generally have access to more games than Android. and often get multi-platform titles them first. 

But there are newer "gaming phones" that have come out in the past year which are...actually pretty good, and we've inserted them into our list accordingly. If you want high specs AND 'gamer'-appealing perks like RGB lights, you no longer have to choose. 

We've examined all the options and chosen the best phones for gaming based on the factors above. Here's our top ten list:

The iPhone XS Max is the bigger, better brother of Apple's new flagship smartphone in a few key ways, but if you're picking either model for gaming, you might as well go with the best. The 6.5-inch screen on the iPhone XS Max is bigger than the one on its 5.8-inch sibling and its larger battery manages to stay working nearly a full hour longer than the standard iPhone XS. 

Those perks will give you more of an edge than with the iPhone XS, but both benefit from this Apple phone generation's true advantage: the A12 Bionic processor. We have high hopes that this chip will outperform the A11 Bionic found on last year's iPhone X since Apple claimed it is 40% more efficient and 50% more powerful than the older processor. In our tests, it loaded up Clash Royale and PUBG even faster, and speed is crucial in online gaming. All this in a Apple's sleek, modern look – though it's the most expensive mainstream phone on the market, even before including all the bells and whistles.

Read the full reviews: iPhone XS Max, iPhone XS

Image Credit: TechRadar

Don't be too surprised to see Samsung so high on the list. It's latest family of Galaxy S10 smartphones are the first to feature Qualcomm's powerful new Snapdragon 855 chipset, which quickly boosted them to the top of the pack in terms of sheer performance.

But, it's not just the chipset that makes these excellent gaming phones. They all have sharp Super AMOLED displays with support for high dynamic range, so you'll get excellent visuals in movies and games alike. The screen real estate is also expanded, so you have that much more game to look at. With these phones, you're getting both a killer phone and a powerful mobile gaming device in one.

Better still, VR fans can still make use of the new phones with existing Gear VR headsets, according to The Verge. Letting you enjoy the immersive game medium on the phones' crisp displays.

 Read our full Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus review 

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

The Asus ROG Phone may "look like an irate Decepticon" as our reviewer put it, but outside its appearance, the device is a powerful phone with plenty of extras to entice gamers. It's also a decent phone in its own right, and it has notable advantages over the comparable Razer Phone 2.

Its specs are solidly advanced for phone released at the tail end of 2018: an 'overclocked' Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM and a 4,000mAh battery, as well as a 90hz refresh rate screen that pales only to the Razer Phone 2's 120hz. 

As for gaming, the phone's "AirTrigger" touch-sensitive buttons on the top-right and top-left of the phone (when held in landscape) are cool, customizable ways to play that your typical smartphone just doesn't have.

True to Asus' Republic of Gamers brand, you can buy a selection of accessories to augment your mobile game experience. These include a clamshell case with a bonus screen, a pair of controller halves that clip to either side and a docking platform that extends your phone to a big display, Nintendo Switch-style. There's even a simple clip-on fan to reduce device heat during games.

The ROG Phone's appeal lives or dies on its external design, and we wouldn't blame you for skipping it for something a bit more conservative. But its advances, especially the AirTriggers, shouldn't be overlooked when considering phones for serious gaming.

Read our full review: Asus ROG Phone

 Image Credit: TechRadar

 The first Razer Phone was a solid first effort to bring the gamer-specific brand to a mobile device, but it had a few shortcomings that dropped it further down our list. The second version has addressed some and come out with a stronger device for it, though it's still aimed primarily at gamers.

What does that mean? The camera and display aren't nearly as impressive as other phones that cost this much, so casual gamers might want to look elsewhere. But if you're more serious about mobile gaming and can afford it, this is a solid choice.

Outwardly, the Razer Phone 2 hasn't changed much from its predecessor, though it's upgraded to the Snapdragon 845 chip and switched to a glass back for Qi wireless charging. It's also added a slick vapor chamber to cool the device as you game.

At the end of the day, the phone's beefy chipset, 8GB RAM, great speakers, 120hz refresh rate screen and 4,000mAh battery, as well as extensive settings to tweak battery life and performance, make this a great choice for gaming.

Read the full review: Razer Phone 2

Image Credit: TechRadar

Huawei's P30 Pro may not be a phone on many people's radars, but it's an amazing Android phone from the Chinese manufacturers. Much of the attention the P30 Pro is getting comes from its impressive camera system, which has three rear cameras including one with a 5X zoom and a stunning dark mode.

But, the Huawei P30 Pro has plenty to offer gamers as well. The Kirin 980 chipset inside is plenty powerful for the latest Android games, and 8GB of RAM can keep everything running smooth even when you're switching back and forth from gaming and other activities.

The hefty 4,200mAh battery can ensure your gaming sessions aren't cut short. An improved heat pipe ad vapor cooling chamber inside the P30 Pro help it keep cool while gaming, so it can continue to play Fortnite, Real Racing 3, and PUBG without a hitch.

Read more: Huawei P30 Pro review

Image Credit: TechRadar

The LG G8 ThinQ is not the most exciting phone. The design isn't as dramatic a step forward as the new Samsung Galaxy S10 family, and it has a wobbly price that often lands too high to make it a real winner. But, there's still plenty to benefit gamers in this package.

The first big thing the LG G8 offers is the Snapdragon 855 chipset, which offers a considerable upgrade in terms of performance over the preceding Snapdragon 845. Then there's the display.

The LG G8 boasts a 6.1-inch OLED display with a 1440 x 3120 resolution. So, you'll get incredibly crisp visuals in everything you do on the phone. And, you can game even in some unfavorable conditions, as the display is plenty bright for sunny days, and the phone has an IP68 protection rating so you won't have to worry about a bit of rain. A little perk is the 3.5mm headphone jack, which will let you game on the LG G8 with your favorite wired headphones without the need for a dongle.

Read more: LG G8 review

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

If you want some serious gaming power but don't want to spend too much on a phone, the OnePlus 6T is a great option. It has the Snapdragon 845 chipset inside that powers some of the most capable smartphones, ensuring that it'll still be a gaming beast for some time to come.

The OnePlus 6T has a big, 6.41-inch OLED display that's plenty sharp without being too sharp. It has a resolution of 1080 x 2340, which isn't as high as some of the competition but is therefore easier for internals to drive. Add in the 3,700mAh battery, and you can game for a good while on this phone. 

Beyond gaming, you get some cool new tech as well. The OnePlus 6T has an in-screen fingerprint scanner, which allowed it to stretch the screen over even more of the front of the device without making the phone overly large.

Read more: OnePlus 6T review

 Image Credit: TechRadar 

While the iPhone XS has dethroned the year-old iPhone X as the top Apple smartphone, the latter is still a great choice with high-performing hardware. If you can find it for sale (it's no longer available on Apple's website), the iPhone X’s 5.8-inch OLED display will offer plenty of screen space for games along with incredible contrast ratios, making visuals pop when a scene has a dark and light contrast.

While other phones may slightly outperform the iPhone X, the biggest advantage of Apple phones for gaming is the App Store. Part of this is due to the love developers show it: iPhones almost always get the best games first, like Fortnite, which launched exclusively on iOS for some time. 

Apple is also on the forefront of delivering the first meaningful and mainstream AR experiences, including AR multiplayer gaming as one of the many iOS 12 features.

Check out our iPhone X review video below.

 Image Credit: TechRadar

There’s no getting around it: Apple phones are powerful and have a lot of great games. The same internals and App Store that earned the iPhone X a spot on this list earn the iPhone 8 Plus the a spot as well.

The iPhone 8 Plus has a less-showy Full HD display, but in our experience is still great for gaming. The 5.5-inch screen is plenty spacious. Apple’s A11 Bionic CPU and graphics make for a mean gaming experience, and ARkit offers up augmented reality games that give Apple’s iPhones more to offer gamers. 

This is the one to buy if you want a gaming phone with a home button and don't want to spend top dollar on the iPhone X or newer iPhones.

 Image Credit: TechRadar

We’ve lumped the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus into one spot, because they both offer nearly the same incredible smartphone gaming experience with only a minor difference in screen size. 

The Snapdragon 845, Adreno 630 graphics, and 4GB of RAM (6GB in the S9 Plus) make both of these phones incredible performers both in game and out. But, a powerful chipset isn’t all that earns the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus its ranking. The S9 has a plenty large and plenty sharp 1440 X 2960, 5.8-inch display, and the S9 Plus has an even larger 6.2-inch display with the same resolution. Both are Super AMOLED and support HDR10 for stunning visuals.

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus also feature Samsung’s Game Tools, which can help with taking screenshots, recording gameplay, and keeping notifications out of the way. Let’s not forget that Samsung also has the impressive Gear VR headsets that offer super sharp virtual reality experiences with the Galaxy S9’s and S9 Plus’s pixel-dense displays.

Categories: Tech News

YouTube Music comes to Google Home speakers for free

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:31

YouTube has announced that it will now offer free music streaming on Google Home speakers with YouTube Music.

Streaming via YouTube Music on your Google Home, Google Home Max, Google Home Mini, or Google Home Hub used to require a subscription to YouTube Music Premium for $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99 per month.

There's a catch though – the free service will be ad-supported, so you won't be able to listen to music uninterrupted without upgrading to a Premium subscription. This is similar to Spotify, which allows you to stream music for free in exchange for  more limited features and in-app adverts.

Limited features

It's likely that the functionality of this free version of YouTube Music will be limited compared to the paid version. In a press release sent to TechRadar and other outlets, YouTube says the that Music Premium users can "request specific albums, songs, artists, and playlists on-demand" as well as "unlimited skips and song replay."

These features will probably be unavailable to people using the free version of YouTube Music with their Google Home speakers.

Even so, the ability to listen to music "right out-of-the-box" without signing up to a paid streaming platform subscription, will probably be a welcome addition to anyone who's thinking of buying a Google Home speaker.

You can also get a 30-day free trial of YouTube Music Premium if you want to try the additional features before you buy.

To set up YouTube Music as your default music streaming platform, you need to head to the Account Settings section of your Google Home app. Go to Services, and then Music, where you can select YouTube Music from a list of providers. 

Categories: Tech News

These new, exclusive phone deals make the Google Pixel 3 even cheaper...again

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:30

Forget Easter Eggs...Google Pixel 3 deals are the gift that just keep giving. Since the November release of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, prices have steadily tumbled down. One look at our overall Pixel 3 deals page, and you'll see the kind of bargains that UK retailers are offering on contract - did nobody tell them that the Google Pixel 3a was coming?

And now the Carphone Warehouse-owned iD Mobile network - perhaps more famous for its cheap SIM only deals - has joined the discount smartphone party by coming up with a stonker of a bargain just in time for the long Easter weekend. Its all new lower prices are available only to TechRadar readers - you lucky so-and-so's.

So what has iD got to offer? In short it's a reduction on the network's 5GB tariffs on both handsets. You're looking at £30 or £50 upfront on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL respectively, and then £23.99 or £26.99 per month over the two-year contract.

You can see both of these offers below with their exact costs. Or if a Google device doesn't quite fulfil what you need from a phone (that bezel not doing it for you?), check out our guide to the best mobile phone deals.

These EXCLUSIVE Google Pixel 3 deals in full:

And iD's Pixel-particular bargains don't end there. Go for any of the retailer's other Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL tariffs, and it will throw in a 100GB data boost. That's a massive pot of data that you can fall back on in case you ever overshoot on your regular allowance. Worked out over two years, it amounts more than an extra 4GB of data per month on average.

What is iD Mobile?

iD Mobile is a sub-section of Carphone Warehouse so you can rest assured that it is a trustworthy source for your new phone deal. It piggybacks off the Three network's coverage, so pretty good for most parts of the UK. And you can use roaming in 50 destinations around the world.

Categories: Tech News

Time may be running out to get hold of a cheap OnePlus 6T deal

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:30

Update: We've been told that the 8GB RAM 'Thunder Purple' version of the OnePlus 6T (pictured above) is definitely not much longer for this world. So if that's the OnePlus 6T deal that you were most seduced by, then you definitely need to get in there quick. It's for sale at £529.99 at Amazon.

"What on Earth is a OnePlus?" - the question overwhelmingly most asked of OnePlus owners when they try showing off their brilliant smartphone to friends and family. Having quietly built up a reputation for producing fantastic smartphones as affordable prices, OnePlus 6T deals have steadily risen in popularity since release last year.

But the mobile - which TechRadar's OnePlus 6T review deemed "one of the best phones you can buy right now" - is now coming to the end of its shelf-life. The OnePlus 7 is expected to land within the next few weeks and, with it, the beginning of the end for the 6T.

That's because, unlike iPhone deals and Samsung phone deals, OnePlus doesn't tend to keep its older generation of mobiles hanging around when its latest, greatest flagship phone goes on sale. So once the OnePlus 7 lands, prepare for OnePlus 6T deals to quickly become tomorrow's fish and chip paper.

That means if you've been liking the look of OnePlus's smartphones and don't want to risk a price hike when the new one comes out, then you'd better get in there quickly. It's still being sold at a number of reputable retailers, and we've summarised the cheapest SIM-free prices on different models below:

Or if you want to go all out on your OnePlus 6T, you could always pick up the McLaren Speed Edition from Amazon for £649. It ups the RAM to 10GB for performance as fast as you'd want from that branding and comes with a very swanky orange trim.

What about OnePlus 6T deals on contract?

If you don't fancy splashing £500+ upfront on your phone, then you don't have to...that's what contract mobile phone deals were made for. And these are the three best OnePlus 6T deals you can get before they're cruelly ripped away...

Categories: Tech News

Amazon closing Chinese marketplace

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:21

Amazon is planning to close its online store in China after more than a decade of trying to gain a foothold in the country.

The ecommerce giant will shutter its domestic marketplace which allowed shoppers to buy from local sellers on its site. 

Chinese shoppers however will still be able to order products from Amazon's global store once its local store closes in July and the company will continue to operate its cloud business in China.

Despite its popularity in the West, Amazon has struggled to carve out a place for itself in China where it faces stiff competition from local rivals Alibaba and JD.com.

Image Credit: Amazon

Amazon.cn

The news that Amazon will close its domestic marketplace in China by mid-July was first reported by Reuters which revealed that the company would instead focus on the more lucrative businesses of selling overseas goods and cloud services in the region.

According to a company spokesperson, Amazon is currently “working closely with our sellers to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to deliver the best customer experience possible.”

The company's Chinese ambitions began back in 2004 when it purchased the local books, music and video retailer Joyo.com for $75m and then rebranded the site as Amazon.cn in 2007.

As Amazon has shifted its focus from China, the ecommerce giant has begun to invest heavily into its business in India. The company has committed to spend $5.5bn on ecommerce in India to better compete against its local rival there, Flipkart.

Via The BBC

Categories: Tech News

Exclusive cloud storage offer: save 80% on a massive 2TB backup from iDrive

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:05

We're just like you...we love a bargain. And not just any bargain - the discounts that impress us most are when they're on a particularly standout product or service (not just some old rubbish that Amazon is trying get rid of from their warehouse on Amazon Prime Day). And that goes equally to cloud storage a it does to phones, laptops and games consoles.

So when our top-rated best cloud storage provider gives us the opportunity to promote a massively reduced price that's available EXCLUSIVELY to TechRadar readers, we get really excited. And that's exactly what's happened with iDrive.

The faintly ridiculous 80% discount (and yes, you are reading that correctly) is available on iDrive's 2TB plan, bringing the price on all that cloud storage down to a mere $13.90 from almost $70. That's an astonishing saving on such a brilliant product - you can read more about iDrive's benefits below.

And don't be put off by the dollar pricing if you're reading this outside the US...iDrive only advertises its prices in US$, but you can still get hold of it from anywhere in the world.

TechRadar's exclusive iDrive cloud storage deal: What makes iDrive the best cloud storage provider?

Fast, easy to use and secure. The main pros of iDrive are very quick and straightforward to explain. Even if you're not that tech savvy, you'll find iDrive really simple to download, set up and operate.

Of course, you'd already expect all those things from the best cloud storage - so what makes iDrive stand out from the competition? It's the extra features, like facial recognition of your photos to help you organize them better, like the physical hard disk of files it will send you if you someohw lose all your stuff, like server backup offering a failsafe if you accidentally delete items you shouldn't have.

We've gone into much more detail in our full iDrive review - you can discover much more about this superb software there.

Categories: Tech News

Smart home sale at Amazon: limited-time savings on August smart locks

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 12:01

If you've wanted to beef up your home security, now is a great time with this
offer from August. Amazon has the August Smart Lock Pro and Connect on sale for $211.50. That's a $68 discount and the best price we've found for the smart home device. 

The Smart Lock Pro can be installed in minutes and attaches to your deadbolt on the inside of your door. You can download the compatible August app to control and monitor your smart lock from anywhere. You'll be able to grant keyless access to family and friends, lock and unlock your door, and keep track of who's coming and going all remotely with your smartphone. The August lock will even automatically unlock and lock when your coming and going so you never have to hassle with finding your keys. The August Pro includes the Connect Wifi Bridge which allows for voice control and is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Siri, and the Google Assistant.

This is the perfect time to secure your home and snag a fantastic deal, so make sure to take advantage of this stellar sale while you can.

Amazon also has the August Smart lock with Connect on sale for $179. The August lock has all the features of the of the Pro, thanks to the Connect Wifi Bridge, but does lack smart home integrations with Apple HomeKit and Z-Wave Plus.

You can find more home security sales with the best cheap home security camera deals that are currently available.

You can also shop more smart home deals with the best cheap smart home devices and gadget deals.

Categories: Tech News

New HP Chromebook 15 laptop is a straightforward work machine

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 11:50

HP has a new Chromebook coming to sit atop its lineup of Chrome laptops in terms of size, at least. The new device is the HP Chromebook 15, and it will come starting at $449 (about £345, AU$630) in the US.

The new HP Chromebook 15 is a no-nonsense affair. It doesn't have any of the flourishes that some of HP's other Chromebooks do. No 360-degree hinge, like the HP Chromebook 14 x360, and no HP Active Pen support, like the HP Chromebook 12 x2.

Instead, the HP Chromebook 15 gets a classy design with metal lid and keyboard deck, a larger display with slim side bezels, a 17.9mm thin construction and a full keyboard with number pad and backlighting.

Into the specs

The 15-inch display has a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution and uses an IPS panel for wide viewing angles. The bezels around the display aren't as slim as we've seen on some premium laptops, but they're still beating the thick bezels many budget devices get. Above the screen, there's a wide-angle HD webcam as well.

In terms of inputs and outputs, the Chromebook 15 gets dual B&O-tuned speakers, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C ports, capable of 5Gbps data transfer and display connections, as well as one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port. There is also a microSD card reader, which can be handy for expanding the storage of your device affordably.

There are multiple configurations available, with the machine coming powered by either a dual-core Intel Pentium Gold 4417U processor and 4GB of DDR4 RAM or an 8th-Gen Intel Core i5 processor, but it's unclear which Core processor and how much RAM is included in that version. We're seeking further details.

The laptop's base storage is 64GB, and HP mentions it's available with up to 128GB of SSD storage. But, that's eMMC storage, which is flash storage, which is not on the same level as the kind of storage you might expect from an SSD. Simply put, you can think of eMMC as SSD lite.

All told, these are fairly high end specs for a Chromebook, as many feature low-power Intel Celeron processors and as little as 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage. To top it all off, HP is packing all of this into a 3.99-pound package with up to 13 hours of battery life and full access to Google Play's Android app ecosystem.

Categories: Tech News

Are flying cars the future of motorsport?

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 07:45

Formula One can be electrifying, but the sport has reached a period of marginal gains; designs and strategies are so refined, we're unlikely to see any major changes to cars or races in the foreseeable future. So what can you do to increase the thrill? 

Australian engineering company Alauda Racing believes it has an answer: taking races above the track with low-altitude aircraft that can tear around the circuit at up to 200kmph.

Alauda Racing has designed a manned craft that's part racing drone, part F1 car specifically for the new sport. The Airspeeder is fully electric, with a 500kW battery, a carbon-fiber chassis, and the ability to take off and land vertically.

Ready for takeoff

This isn't just a concept, either; the Airspeeder will be debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, and manned flights are beginning this year.

The Airspeeder World Championships are scheduled to launch in 2020, with five teams of two pilots competing for the grand prize.

“Transport is changing, and motoring is becoming more than two-dimensional," says Matt Pearson, founder of Alauda Racing. "Just like traditional motoring, flying cars need a forum to push the technology further. What better way to achieve this than by creating a global flying car series, the sport of this century, the future of motorsport.”  

Categories: Tech News

How Metroid and Wind Waker influenced the next Star Wars game

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 07:38

Respawn Entertainment finally revealed the first official Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order trailer during this year's annual Star Wars Celebration event. And while the official reveal gave us a lucrative taste of Jedi: Fallen Order's storyline, Respawn was a bit sketchy on details surrounding the title's actual gameplay mechanics and how combat would work.

During the Jedi: Fallen Order panel, Respawn teased that the game would require "thoughtful combat", but what exactly does that mean? Well, thanks to a follow-up interview, we may have a better idea.

Speaking to Press Start, game director Stig Asmussen and director of franchise content and strategy for the Lucasfilm Story Group, Steve Blank revealed Jedi: Fallen Order's combat will require a bit more strategy and patience than your typical single-player title. 

"It means you really have to understand not only the enemy that you’re going up against, but the group of enemies, and they each have their own strengths, and they each have their own weaknesses," Asmussen told Press Start. "You have to figure out what tools that you have in your skill set to best take them down."

While this may conjure thoughts that Jedi: Fallen Order will be in the same vein as the Soulborne series (without the difficulty) - and those games did have an influence to some degree - Respawn found true inspiration from games such as Zelda and Metroid.

"If you look at a game like Zelda Wind Waker, as you get different abilities, each enemy is crafted in a certain way, or even Metroid," Asmussen continued. 

"The enemies are crafted in a certain way that once you upgrade, you can think about how you’re going to approach them differently, and maybe they aren’t as big a challenge as they were at one point."

So, we can expect a progressive system rather than a simple hack n' slash? That sounds like the Star Wars game we were looking for...

(Image credits: Respawn Entertainment)

Categories: Tech News

How has VAR changed the interpretation of wider video analysis

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 07:30

Technology for surveillance has always been hotly debated. Since the wider introduction of CCTV in the ‘70s, public surveillance has been reviewed with a mix of cynicism and positivity. Some feel that this technology is intruding on the privacy of day-to-day life, and value its effectiveness, whereas most recognise the advantages of this technology for preventing and following up on criminal activity.

However, in the years since Smart Video was rolled out, so has the innovative uses this technology is now providing. Smart video is now capable of producing invaluable insights and reports that allow for increased operational efficiency across all business types by measuring and optimising what we do and how we act in the real world. 

Video analytics role in sports

The evolution of smart video has not been confined to businesses and lifestyle. It has taken a front-row seat in the continuing development of numerous sports. Professional rugby, NFL and football have all used video analysis as a way of improving decision making, efficiency and results in training and in matches. Constructs such as Video Assisted Referees (mainly used in professional football) have changed perceptions through problem-solving and providing good, quantifiable value to fans. In its infancy, VAR was met with the same cynicism that the video security industry was met with. Perhaps technological change is always viewed with some degree of skepticism, until it shows its value.

However, due to the passion that football in Britain holds, many are starting to appreciate the improvements that tech can provide to ‘the beautiful game’. This is not to say that this is a common opinion. Some still question it’s place in the game, but it’s becoming respected.

This mixed feeling is mainly due to traditionalists who feel that the decisions of the referee should not be overruled by the use of technology, or by deferring to the VAR, can slow the momentum of a game. However, higher standards of football refereeing has put a bigger spotlight on mistakes when they do happen. Human error is not uncommon, yet these errors become exaggerated in high stakes situations e.g. an important football match, when an upheld error can have a financial impact on the clubs, or cause anguish at the injustice of the situation to both players and fans. 

Image Credit: Pixabay

The case for VAR

The Video Assisted Referee has felt a resurgence. Football fans have clamoured for its reintroduction after a number of high-profile events had a dramatic effect on European competitions. Instances such as those in the World Cup Final in 2010 would have been different should European football have had access to the Video Assisted Referee. 

More recently, the use of VAR has become more widespread due to the ongoing debate by pundits. VAR is on the verge of being rolled out across all major football leagues as of the 2019-20 season, which will see England’s highest-quality football league, The Premier League, and the Premium European competition, UEFA Champions League both set to have the technology throughout the competitions. There is now greater understanding that VAR can help the referees to make as accurate a decision as possible, which can only be good for the clubs, the players and their fans.

VAR is not the only benefit of using video analysis in the football industry. Used correctly, video analysis of athletes can provide an outside perspective of anything observable, repeatable and improvable with a player’s movement and technique. Clubs regularly use contracted professionals to use technology that will better help them pinpoint moments of disruption in their ongoing development. It can also enable managers to make tactical decisions based upon live data, such as how far someone has run, where on the pitch they have been playing, and how many passes they have made, during the game. The future of football might be one in which teams are picked and play in a certain way “because of what the data says”.

But how has this affected the wider community of video analytics in other industries? If it’s good enough for high-stakes, must-watch matches, there must be something of value for other industries to learn from...

Almost every industry in the UK has reaped the rewards of wider video analysis. This has included the use of video intelligence in retail, offices, warehouses and workspaces as well as across the travel, transport, leisure and education industries.

Image Credit: Pexels

Retail

Retail is the one industry that has benefited most from the use of video analysis. Smart video is so advanced that they have the ability to help retail outlets on almost every level by gaining a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour within stores.

Physical retailers, or retailers with a presence on the high street, are now able to understand their physical space and make it work better for them by getting unprecedented levels of insight and business intelligence that typically had been very hard to get. They can help analyse and gain actionable data on traffic flow, workforce management, store design and merchandising, supply, security and legal. This has helped retail businesses realign their targets for personnel and finances, with new evidence-based data affirming predictions of a downturn in footfall and an increase in overheads.

Health

It would be wrong to say that the wider adoption of VAR has led to an increase in the use of video in hospitals. However, it may have changed the public perception of it. Healthcare staff from surgeons to nurses can benefit from the use of smart video. Surgeons use video analytics as a way of seeing minute mistakes and better training by observing remote procedures. 

Similarly, hospitals are able to better the way they run due to regular insights into the processes undertaken by staff as they interact with the space, assets, people, and equipment. Incremental improvements could be essential to the health of patients, as does the awareness of senior management in the best practices and actions of hospital staff.

Education

The education industry is an area which relies on the continual innovation and adaptation of those who work in it. For this to happen, individuals must find new ways of learning about themselves and improve in a cycle of continuous professional development. 

Our work with the Aston University Engineering Academy has seen teachers become more self-aware and improve the way they present their lessons in order to engage, enthrall, and enhance the student experience and learning environment. The analysis allows experts to provide constructive feedback to even the most experienced teachers to keep improving and enjoy their calling.

Image Credit: Pexels

Transport

Transport is a necessity for a huge number of consumers in the UK. When transport bodies have issues, they’re widely impactful and publicised (and criticised). Due to that, it was only a matter of time before video analysis was integrated into the control and monitoring of various transport types. Rail travel, motoring, and interactions at transport hubs have been enhanced by the use of video analysis. 

For instance, video analysis combined with improved artificial intelligence has allowed an improvement in traffic flow management, reducing congestion and a better targeting of suspicious behaviour. Incidents of violence and threats to rail travel has also been massively reduced by the implementation of smart video in train stations, as well as further analysis of processes from rail providers on how their people and vehicles interact in shared spaces.

Impact of video analysis

In conclusion, video analysis has proved to be an effective tool in improving a number of industries across the UK. Seemingly, the re-introduction of VAR into British football may have correlated with a more positive perception of video analysis and could be one of the major reasons why sport has transformed from a game played for entertainment and leisure into an industry worth over 1.5 trillion US$ globally.

In the last year, statistics have shown a significant reduction in transport violence related to football. Many would suggest that this is down to better policing of the rail system, but there is no doubting that cameras are a deterrent to those looking to instigate or participate in crime.

Richard Morgans, CMO at ONVU Technologies

Categories: Tech News

How to build a data-driven remote team

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 06:30

Although it was once common for companies to rely on intuition when making important decisions, many have since shifted to a more data-centric approach. A report by McKinsey & Company found that data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result. It’s no wonder companies are turning to data to make faster, more informed decisions.

It’s important for all teams to be data-driven, including those that work remotely. Although it may take some time for remote teams to adjust to a data mindset, the payoff is massive. Here’s how companies can enable remote teams to take a more data-centric approach.

Develop measurable goals

An extensive collection of data is meaningless unless companies know what they’re using it to measure or how it’s affecting company decisions overall. Before diving deep into data, it’s crucial to determine company-wide goals first as well as those specific to each department.

Companies should create a list of clearly defined goals, such as a revenue target, a growth metric, etc. Communicate these goals with the remote team to help ensure the entire company is on the same page. Consider how these goals align with the data being collected and how they may help shift priorities among the team.

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Increase accountability

Shifting to a data-centric approach requires changes to the structure and organization of a remote team. The main idea behind a data-driven team is that all team members are accountable for the analytics related to their specific department. They must develop insight and actionable plans based on their data. For example, a digital marketer should be gathering data and analyzing metrics from their campaign performance to determine whether or not it’s working.

Update the responsibilities of each team member. Communication is key for remote teams to work effectively, so it’s imperative to spell out the responsibilities for each team member clearly. Schedule a call to discuss analytics tools and how this will impact each member of the team. This way, everyone knows what’s expected of them.

Moving to a data-centric approach does not mean making the remote team work certain hours. In fact, the opposite it true. Each team member is instead responsible for pushing the team towards a numeric goal. Remote team members usually have flexible work hours, which is fine, as long as they are accountable for their role in meeting goals.

Recognize contributions

Taking on a data-centric approach will lead to increased insights. Whether someone discovers a way to get more leads or finds a defect in the analytics system, find ways to recognize or reward team members.

For a remote team, company leaders can acknowledge contributions by sending out a special email or providing a spot bonus. Managers will have an easier time figuring out key players on the team, because the numbers will show it. Team leaders can then explain to the entire remote team how and why an employee stood out to encourage this type of work. While it may be easier to recognize a team member in-office, it’s vital to do so in a remote setting as well.

Encourage collaboration

Collaboration is a core value in data-driven companies. It’s critical to build a remote work culture that supports the ongoing sharing of information. Therefore, companies should make all appropriate data accessible to everyone on the team. Sharing data freely allows teams to rely on that data to make important decisions and increases performance at the individual and team level.

For example, many business decisions take place on Slack’s communication tool. Using Statsbot, an analytical bot that integrates with Slack, remote teams can work together and access data whenever they need it. Between these two tools, remote teams can find the information they need easily, and all team members can participate in the decision-making process. Remember to share data among the team safely. pCloud, for example, offers encrypted cloud storage for all files. Team members can also send secure messages using off-the-Record Messaging (OTR), a cryptographic protocol for instant messages.

It might be helpful to hold virtual meetings consistently where remote team members can share and discuss analytical findings, hypotheses they’ve tested, and insights. Sharing data and experiences can help other members on the team leverage valuable information in their own work. 

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Invest in the right tools and training

No matter how accessible the data is, it won’t be beneficial if team members don’t use it to make decisions or don’t understand it. Start by investing in the appropriate data tools. Companies should choose tools based on their goals and how easy it is for remote teams to use them to access, share, and analyze data. Consider data systems that integrate with existing business tools, such as Excel or Oracle.

Once the right data tools are in place, it’s important to invest in training. Make sure team members understand the basics of data analysis, transformation, and visualization. They must understand the capabilities of each tool. Provide training for remote teams, such as online courses or video-based tutorials, so they have a full understanding of how to use them.

Act on data

Companies that turn data into actionable insights, known as insights-driven businesses, are achieving 30% growth every year. Although it sounds intuitive to act on data, many teams often collect and analyze data without ever using it to make important decisions. To truly create a data-driven remote team, companies must develop a culture where team members act on data collected. If a particular strategy isn’t working, team members should discontinue based on their data and focus their efforts on areas that are getting better results. Not using data to make informed decisions can be detrimental.

Shifting a remote team to a data-centric approach will not happen overnight. Remember to start small and be flexible as the team is likely to experience a learning curve with this change. Companies with remote teams that focus on collecting, analyzing, and using data to make important decisions will have many competitive advantages.

David Lloyd, CEO of The Intern Group

Categories: Tech News

Volvos across Europe will warn each other about icy roads this winter

Latest Tech News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 06:29

The weather in Europe is warming up, but Volvo is preparing for an icy winter ahead by rolling out a system that will let cars communicate and warn one another about slippery roads and other hazards.

Winters in Volvo's homeland Sweden can be harsh, with temperatures dropping as low as -30C, so it makes sense to prepare well in advance. 

Hazard Light Alert and Slippery Road Alert were first introduced to Volvo 90 series cars in Sweden and Norway in 2016, and proved so successful they're now being added to all new model cars in Europe from 2020 onwards, with retrofitting available for some older models.

The idea is that, by warning drivers in advance that the road ahead is likely to be slippery, the system will give them time to prepare and slow down.

"Sharing real-time safety data between cars can help avoid accidents," said Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. "Volvo owners directly contribute to making roads safer for other drivers that enable the feature, while they also benefit from early warnings to potentially dangerous conditions ahead."

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Hazard Light Alert is a simple idea, but effective: when a Volvo fitted with the system flips on its hazard lights, a signal is sent to all connected cars warning them of a potential danger on that stretch of road. 

Slippery Road Alert is more automated, collecting anonymous data on the condition of the road surface from cars further up the road, and warning those behind about any potential slick patches well in advance.

"The more vehicles we have sharing safety data in real time, the safer our roads become," said Ekholm. "We hope to establish more collaborations with partners who share our commitment to safety."

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