Is it time we started living underground?

Is it time we started living underground?


Powered by WPeMatico

Here’s another upgrade reportedly coming to the 2018 iPhones

Here’s another upgrade reportedly coming to the 2018 iPhones

Now that the reveal of the iPhone X is out of the way, we can start thinking about what’s coming to the iPhone family in 2018, and one analyst is predicting that next year’s models are going to feature significantly faster baseband chips for ramping up upload and download speeds on cellular networks.

According to KGI Securities, which has a decent record in knowing what’s happening inside Apple’s secretive supply chain, the phones will have 4 x 4 MIMO antenna technology, an upgrade on the 2 x 2 MIMO chips used in the 2017 editions of the handset. That’s not 5G speeds, but it’s a substantial bump.

Another change will be that around 70-80 percent of these chips are going to be made by Intel, KGI reports – current supplier Qualcomm has hit a rocky patch in its relationship with Apple, though it will still supply the remainder of the antenna components.

Ready for 5G

It might not be the most exciting of upgrades for the iPhone 9 or whatever Apple is planning to call it, but nevertheless faster data speeds are always welcome. Trials of 5G are currently happening all across the world, so it shouldn’t be too long before the technology is available – though you might have to wait until 2019 for 5G phones.

Other gossip from the world of Apple suggests we’re set for three iPhones next year, with a 6.1-inch TFT LCD version catering for those who want to spend a little less on their Apple products. It looks like the form factor of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus is getting ditched for good, so get used to the notch.

Of course it’s still early days for rumors and speculation about the next-generation iPhone, so take everything you hear with a pinch of salt for now. If next year’s launch is anything like this year’s though, we’ll know pretty much everything there is to know about these phones before they’re officially unveiled.


Powered by WPeMatico

10 reasons why you need a VPN

10 reasons why you need a VPN

These days, VPN technology has made the transition from a ‘nice thing to have’ to a ‘must-have’ for many folks who are online. And that’s mainly because of concerns around online privacy, and regulations like the Investigatory Powers Act in the UK, or the legislation passed in the US earlier this year that allows ISPs to sell user data. In short, there are a number of compelling reasons why you should start using a VPN, and we’ve rounded up 10 good ones here.

1. Secure messaging

Online communications have evolved from simple text-based emails to robust cross-platform messaging services – including WhatsApp, Skype and Snapchat to name a few of the more popular ones. The issue is that not all of these are encrypted, and therefore there’s the potential for messages to be intercepted and read.

Putting these messaging services through a VPN provides a higher level of security with the inherent encryption, and keeps these conversations where they belong – in private.

2. VoIP

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This is the revolutionary advance that enabled digital voice communications at a lower cost than traditional phone lines by routing calls through the internet.

The downside is that now instead of tapping individual subscriber lines, VoIP calls can be acquired and analyzed in bulk. By sending these calls through a VPN, they are encrypted, and therefore require serious decryption skills to gain access to the call, making things much harder for any snoops.

3. Online gaming

Using a VPN to play an online game might seem like a poor idea on the face of it, but it does offer some advantages. For starters, there’s anonymity, meaning you can keep your account credentials (that may contain credit card information) safe and secure.

Additionally, a VPN can be used to overcome geo-blocking restrictions, so for example, an American can continue to play a US-based game while traveling overseas. Also, in some cases, using a VPN will offer faster connection speeds as it could avoid throttling, and could also allow you to connect to a faster gaming server (which you might not have been able to access without the VPN).

Finally, a VPN can increase your level of protection against DDoS attacks – not that these are common, but gaming rivals with a serious grudge could decide to attempt to target your connection and bog it right down, lagging you out of the game. A nasty prospect indeed.

4. Avoiding government censorship

In some countries the internet is highly censored by oppressive governments. This hampers efforts to communicate outside of the regime, and prevents access to sites that we all take for granted.

Obviously enough, when you’re travelling to such a country, you will also be subject to this online censorship – so a VPN could be a necessity if you want to freely surf the web and communicate with the rest of the world.

5. Secure public Wi-Fi

When out and about, staying connected is often a necessity, and free Wi-Fi has become an important commodity for staying in touch with family members, as well as business colleagues. The added bonus is that using Wi-Fi won’t chew through your smartphone data plan.

However, using public Wi-Fi can also be fraught with hazards. These include packet sniffers, falling into phishing scams via fake Wi-Fi connections, and being hacked or infected with malware. The good news is that a VPN with a modern encryption protocol will help protect you and your precious data from these types of attacks.

6. Location-based price targeting

Businesses not only target their ads at customers, but they also adjust their pricing as well. We can (mostly) accept the fact that a supermarket chain may adjust the price of a certain item at different locations due to ‘local competition’. However, this sort of practice gets more painful when it occurs over the internet, as in essence it should be a level playing field.

Well, a VPN can even those odds right up. By being able to choose the VPN server’s location, you can change where the online shopping site will think that you are, and therefore benefit from the best price, as opposed to the one you’d have got from your real-world location.

7. Bypass restrictions 

Using a computer at certain locations, such as a school or library, will not offer the full internet, but rather a filtered, partially censored version. While in some cases this works for the protection of users, in other cases it can be frustrating when trying to look into a blocked topic.

For example, in one case a user was researching the topic of ‘breast cancer’ for informational purposes, and was blocked from doing so as the word ‘breast’ was on the restricted list to protect users from pornography. A VPN allows the user to get access to the full internet, and bypass any unreasonable restrictions.

8. Stop Google tracking

There are times when the ‘Do no evil’ company, Google, seriously starts to resemble ‘Big Brother’ as it seeks to track what every user does online, including searching their Gmail accounts to better target ads – although the firm has promised to stop this practice. Although Gmail aside, Google has plenty of mined data from other sources; it is a search engine giant, after all.

A VPN allows the user to stop Google from being the ‘camel that sticks its nose under the tent,’ and to take back control of their privacy. Without a VPN, users are literally tracked in just about everything they do online with Google’s suite of products from email, search, to G Suite apps, and when using the popular Chrome browser, among other considerations.

9. Research without a trace

There are times when some research needs to be done without tipping your hand. For example, if one company wants to look at the available jobs or policies at a competitor, it would be ideal to do this without revealing their IP address, especially if this is done from the workplace.

A VPN is an effective cloak in these cases, as the user will be assigned a totally different IP address, and it can be chosen to be geographically disparate for an additional element of safety.

10. Take control of your privacy

Quite simply, a VPN has become a necessity to keep online activities private. Email and cloud storage accounts, with their potential to be compromised, are a ripe target for hackers. Thankfully, by using a VPN and choosing a robust encryption protocol, privacy can be reclaimed.


Powered by WPeMatico

Our favorite Samsung Galaxy S8 deal is $200 ahead of Black Friday 2017

Our favorite Samsung Galaxy S8 deal is $200 ahead of Black Friday 2017

There’s an important Samsung Galaxy S8 deal in the US ahead of Black Friday 2017, and it’s cheaper than the price you’ll find anywhere on Amazon today.

It’s $200 off the Galaxy S8 on Newegg for the superior International version of the smartphone – the one that comes unlocked to work on AT&T or T-Mobile.

It also just so happens to be the dual-SIM capable version of the Android phone, which makes it ideal for traveling outside of the US and connecting to both your existing number for calls and texts and a foreign SIM for cheaper data while abroad.

This version of the smartphone usually costs $799. You’ll have to pay Newegg the full price, but that’s generally the cost of buying a fully unlocked phone that isn’t overtaken by carrier apps and bloatware.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is also on sale and is even cheaper. In fact, you’ll pay less for this 6.2-inch phone than you would the smaller 5.8-inch S8 from Samsung. How things change in a little over half a year.

$200 off the Galaxy S8 on Newegg
View Deal
The International version of this phone is usually more expensive, but today, you can find it for a lot cheaper thanks to this Newegg deal one week before Black Friday 2017.

It’s cheaper and faster

Maybe the best news of all is the fact that this particular Samsung Galaxy S8 phone runs the Samsung Exynos 8895 Octa-core chipset.

The Exynos 8895 proven to be faster in our review testing compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. The one thing Qualcomm’s chip can do is connect to Verizon and Sprint’s CDMA networks in the US. This phone cannot.

That’s why this deal is beneficial to anyone solely on the AT&T and T-Mobile GSM networks, or one of the many other MVNO carriers in the US that supports GSM phones.

Saving $200 off our recommended versions of the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a good start to Black Friday one week before the deals even begin.


Powered by WPeMatico

What’s next for Microsoft’s .Net CLR

What’s next for Microsoft’s .Net CLR

Microsoft’s Common Language Runtime, the virtual machine that anchors the .Net Framework, is due for a makeover, with the company announcing plans to make the CLR more efficient and scalable.

Key to this modernization will be improvements to the intermediate language underlying the CLR, called IL, which has not been upgraded in 10 years, said Mads Torgersen, lead designer for C# at Microsoft. The company wants to improve the IL and make the CLR a richer target for programming languages. 

The goal of the CLR is to run .Net programs efficiently. Currently the biggest problem with .Net is the inherent limits of scalability of the runtime itself, Ben Watson, Microsoft principal software engineer, said. The CLR is being pushed beyond its original intention and design. Watson explained that when multiple gigabytes of code are being loaded, algorithms built into the CLR start breaking down. 

One imminent improvement involves Span, pronounced “span of tee,” a new type that will offer language and framework features for achieving safer, more-performant, low-level code. The t in Span means type parameter. Span will be used by C# and other languages to create more efficient code that does not need to copy large amounts of data or pause for garbage collection, Torgersen said. New versions of the CLR will have “inside knowledge” about Span to improve speed. Span will be rolled out over the next few releases of the .Net Framework. 

Serving as Microsoft’s counterpart to the JVM of the Java world, the CLR provides code management of .Net languages including C#, Visual Basic, and F#. Source code is compiled by the language compilers into IL code; the CLR runs the program by executing the IL and translating the output into machine code while the program is running. Other services are provided by the CLR including automatic memory management and type safety, saving the programmer from having to provide for these services. 


Powered by WPeMatico

Monster gaming laptop deal: MSI will save you $450 before Black Friday

Monster gaming laptop deal: MSI will save you $450 before Black Friday

For PC gamers already in the holiday shopping spirit, MSI and NewEgg have a sick deal for you way ahead of Black Friday

What you’re about to see is a VR-ready, ultra-portable gaming laptop for what most budget mobile gaming rigs cost.

For a limited time, MSI is selling its GS63VR Stealth Pro gaming laptop for just $1,149. That is, specifically, a $1,599 product for $300 off – with another $150 off through a rebate mail-in card.

Inside, this laptop is sporting a 15.6-inch, Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 display powered by a 6th generation Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics with 6GB of GDDR5 memory. Backing those processors are 16GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD + 1TB hard drive combo for storage.

We’ve reviewed the GS63VR Stealth Pro sequel, the 7RG model, with Nvidia Max-Q graphics and a 7th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, awarding it four stars. This older model will get you a taste of that for hundreds less – just $1,149View Deal.

This is but a taste of what you’re bound to see in the coming days and week leading up to Black Friday weekend. Keep it locked to TechRadar for all of the latest in Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.


Powered by WPeMatico

The ultimate PS4 Pro bundle deal comes with 7 games for just £339.99

The ultimate PS4 Pro bundle deal comes with 7 games for just £339.99

With the Xbox One X launching earlier this month at £450, Sony was always going to march in with its one year old PS4 Pro and ruin Microsoft’s party with some barnstorming Black Friday deals.

As it turns out, this has happened a week early – a whole range of PS4 Pro bundle deals went live this week which are truly irresistible. The best value deal comes with three Crash Bandicoot games, Call of Duty: WWII, Fallout 4, Doom and FIFA 18 all for just £339.99 at Currys.

If you’re looking to spend even less, you can also get the PS4 Pro with FIFA 18 and the three Crash Bandicoot games for just £299. That’s an order of magnitude cheaper than a bundle like this cost just one week ago – so if you’re after a PS4 Pro, your window is open!

The best PS4 Pro Black Friday deals:


Powered by WPeMatico

Gadget Lab Podcast: Pain in the Ear

Gadget Lab Podcast: Pain in the Ear

Headphones aren’t really just headphones anymore. They’re ear computers. Sure, you can use them to listen to music, as always. But they’ve got touch controls now. They’re embedded with custom wireless chips to ease pairing. They also open a direct line to the voice assistant on your phone. Soon however, it’s likely you won’t even need the phone to talk to your AI-powered assistant in your headphones. That moment of untethering is when headphones get really powerful, with features like real-time navigation and language translation. Some of us can’t wait for that future. Others never want it to arrive.

Some notes: Read David’s review of the Google Pixel Buds and the Apple AirPods. Also read Arielle on her custom AI chatbot. Recommendations this week: Channel 33’s interview with Richard Linklater, Peak, and Replika. Send the hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes is @pardesoteric, David Pierce is @pierce, and Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Play Music app just by tapping here. You can also download an app like Pocket Casts or Radio Public, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

We’re also on Soundcloud, and every episode gets posted to as soon as it’s released. If you still can’t figure it out, or there’s another platform you use that we’re not on, let us know.


Powered by WPeMatico

Best smartwatch: the top smartwatches you can buy in 2017

Best smartwatch: the top smartwatches you can buy in 2017

The smartwatch is the ultimate smartphone accessory. It can tell the time, of course, but it can also beam important notifications straight to your wrist, and run native apps.

What’s more impressive is that many of today’s best models can also perform a ton of novel tricks, such as enabling you to search the internet with your voice, tracking your exercise with GPS, and letting you check-out at the grocery store without reaching for your wallet.

Oh – and they look absolutely stunning to boot. If you’re thinking that a smartwatch is a pointlessly geeky accessory… think again. These choices are well-made, powerful and can genuinely make you fitter through some smart nudges.

Choosing the smartwatch that’s right for you isn’t easy, but we hope to make the exciting process of getting paired up with your next (or first!) smartwatch as simple as possible.

1. Apple Watch 3

A better connection with the world’s best smartwatch

OS: watchOS 4 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53″ OLED | Processor: S2 dual-core | Band sizes: Varies drastically per watch size | Onboard storage: 8GB / 16GB (Non-LTE and LTE respectively) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC

Brilliant fitness tracking
Non-LTE version much better value
LTE is an unnecessary expense
Battery too short for sleep tracking

The Apple Watch 3 (or Apple Watch Series 3, if we’re being picky) is the best smartwatch you can buy right now. Yes, it’s essentially just the Apple Watch 2 frame with some new innards… but they make a big difference.

The LTE connection is the headline event, although that’s not really as useful as some might hope – plus it costs a lot more to use, and drains the battery.

What we like is the non-LTE version, which is a lot cheaper, and offers all the smarts of the Watch 2 but with a longer battery life and faster speeds when flicking through – that’s the right kind of upgrade on the best smartwatch in the world, in our opinion.

It’s still water-resistant so you can swim about when using it nor worry about getting it wet in the rain when you’re out for a jog.

There’s GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it comes running the top watchOS 4 software. 

Read the full review: Apple Watch 3

Samsung Gear S2

2. ZTE Quartz

A generic Android Wear watch with an insanely low price

OS: Android Wear | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.4″ 400 x 400 AMOLED | Processor: Snapdragon 2100 | Band sizes: Single large strap | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 1.5 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G

Sublime price
Large battery
Generic, clunky design
No heart rate monitor

Don’t get too excited about this watch unless you live in the US: it’s only available there and exclusive to T-Mobile.

If you do live in the States, get very excited about the fact you can own this watch for just $96, which is a – frankly – ridiculous price.

Yes, it lacks a heart rate monitor and some of the design and software flourishes that would make it a superb smartwatch, but for the price this is simply a must-buy (if you can).

Read the full review: ZTE Quartz review

Sony Smartwatch 3

3. LG Watch Style

The thinnest Android Wear smartwatch yet

Compatibility: Android 4.3+, iOS8.2+ | Display: 1.2″ 360 x 360 P-OLED | Processor: Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: Up to 24h | Charging method: Conductive USB charger | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Devilishly good-looking
Disappointing battery life
Lacks NFC and broader connectivity

The LG Watch Style (built in collaboration with Google) offers everything that’s to love from the best Android Wear smartwatches, ditches the dreaded flat tire, then fills in the gap with cool, useful features and a whole lot of… style.

Roll that all up and you’re left with an extremely alluring presentation that makes a mighty strong argument for Google’s wearable platform. But there are some familiar wrinkles here.

Battery life is still a low point, and, as independent as Android Wear 2.0 claims to be, Google is still in the early days of filling the new Play Store with compatible apps that are enticing enough to bother with aside from its own. 

The Style’s appeal lies more in what it will be soon, rather than what it is at launch.

That said, it’s easy to express why the Style is the only smartwatch we want to put on our wrists. For a recently-lowered price, it offers just as much utility as prior smartwatch attempts, but ups the ante with a slim, dashing design and several welcome features, like the voice-activated Google Assistant and a refreshed user interface that’s full of clever tweaks.

Read the full review: LG Watch Style

Samsung Gear S2

4. Samsung Gear S3

Samsung’s latest goes big against Apple – literally

OS: Tizen OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.3″ 360 x 360 Super AMOLED | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: S (105 x 65mm) L (130 x 70mm) | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery duration: 3 days | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G

Intuitive interface
Great activity tracking
Very large on wrist
Severe lack of apps

Despite a serious lack of original apps, the Samsung Gear S3 is one of the best smartwatch options on the market.

The intuitive controls and Super AMOLED screen from the Samsung Gear S2 are back in full form here. Plus, GPS makes its full debut on the Gear S3.

While its look is more executive than the Gear S2, it rocks a IP68-protected build and can last up to 3 days of use before needing a charge – that’s some of the best battery life we’ve seen on a smartwatch.

Samsung recently made the Gear S3 (and Gear S2, for that matter) compatible on iOS too, so if you’re looking for a more traditional-looking alternative to the Apple Watch, you may have found your match.

Read the full review: Samsung Gear S3

5. LG Watch Sport

Google’s Android phone on your wrist

OS: Android Wear 2.0 | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.38″ OLED | Processor: Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Band sizes: Fixed large band | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 16 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP68 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC

Calls and data without a phone
Offers strength training
Battery life falls short
Standalone apps still coming

LG Watch Sport would be the smartwatch to beat right now, because it’s a full-featured fitness tracker wrapped in a smartwatch running Android Wear 2.0. 

While other smartwatches can do “fitness tracking” that just amounts to logging runs and calories burned, this watch tracks your all-important strength training, too.

However, despite supporting an LTE connection ( so if you pop a SIM card into the back of the watch, it can make and receive calls and data – without your smartwatch nearby) it’s been limited to US-only availability.

It doesn’t have the best battery life, despite its bigger-than-normal size, and apps are still being announced for Google’s newly refreshed platform. But it’s a nice step forward for Android Wear and smartwatches in general.

Read the full review: LG Watch Sport

Asus Zenwatch 2

6. Asus ZenWatch 3

ZenWatch grows up with its third iteration

OS: Android Wear 2.0 | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.39″ 400 x 400 AMOLED | Processor: Snapdragon Wear 2100 | Case dimensions: 44mm diameter, 9.9mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 2 days | Charging method: via proprietary USB charger | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Gorgeous display
Excellent battery life
Lacks heart rate sensor, NFC, GPS
Proprietary straps

If you’re in the market for an Android Wear smartwatch, the Asus ZenWatch 3 should be one to think about. It has a great display, useful hardware buttons and good battery life. And although it has been slow to adopt Android Wear 2.0, the long-awaited update is finally available.

It’s styling might not be for everyone, and it’s lacking in a few sensors, but Asus did a commendable job designing a watch that looks more like a premium watch than a piece of lifeless technology.

Read the full review: Asus ZenWatch 3

Samsung Gear S2

7. Fitbit Ionic

The fitness brand makes a big smartwatch play

OS: Fitbit OS | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: TBC, 1000 nits | Processor: Dual-core 1.0GHz | Band sizes: Large | Onboard storage: 2.5GB | Battery duration: 2-3 days | Charging method: Proprietary charger | IP rating: 50M water resistant | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Bright display
Variety of fitness options
Slow interface
Severe lack of apps

The Fitbit Ionic was always going to be a tough move for the brand, trying to enter the world of smartwatches from fitness bands.

The effort succeeds in some places: namely fitness, as you might imagine, where you can track all manner of things, from running to weight lifting to swimming. There’s also dedicated bodyweight coaching sessions in there, and you can pay for items on the go using Fitbit Pay.

Where it lacks is the price – it’s expensive, and the amount you can do with it compared to other smartwatches is limited. However, if you’re a Fitbit fan looking to do more with the a band, this is a nice option.

Read the full review: Fitbit Ionic review

8. Apple Watch 2

Fitness takes over the Apple Watch

OS: watchOS 4 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53″ OLED | Processor: S2 dual-core | Band sizes: Varies drastically per watch size | Onboard storage: 8GB (only 2GB and 75MB allowed for music and photos, respectively) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC

GPS onboard
Lack of useful apps

The Apple Watch 2 was the best smartwatch around – until it got replaced. It’s water-resistant, which means it’s more durable than most of the other devices on this list and you won’t have to worry about getting it wet in the rain when you’re out for a jog.

There’s GPS onboard to make running that little bit easier plus it comes running the newest watchOS 3 software. Design wise it’s looking very similar to the original Apple Watch. It’s no longer as expensive as it once was, either.

The downside is that stocks are starting to get severely limited as Apple has discontinued it on its wooden shelves – so you’ll need to pick one up sharpish if you’re looking for a good alternative to the Apple Watch 3.

Read the full review: Apple Watch 2

Moto 360

9. Moto 360 (2nd Gen)

Moto’s smartwatch is still a thing of beauty

OS: Android Wear 2.0 | Compatibility: Android, iOS | Display: 1.37″ or 1.56″ LCD | Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz | Case dimensions: 42mm or 46mm diameter, each 11.4mm thick | Onboard storage: 4GB | Battery: 1.5-2 days depending on size | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IP67 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Beautiful design
Improved performance
Battery life remains suspect
Flat tire bezel is back

The second generation oto 360 certainly gets our vote as one of the best smartwatches when it comes to the design – and it’s also one of the most comfortable wearables around.

The new size options give the Moto 360 the extra reach it needed the first time around. That, and the new-found comfortable fit (along with the added customization to the design), brings it all together as one of the best smartwatches of 2016, and still a strong option in 2017.

Read the full review: Moto 360

10. Apple Watch

The iPhone-tailored smartwatch is expensive, but convenient

OS: watchOS 4 | Compatibility: iOS | Display: 1.53″ OLED | Processor: S1 System-in-Package (SiP) | Band sizes: Varies drastically per style | Onboard storage: 8GB (only 2GB and 75MB allowed for music and photos, respectively) | Battery: 18 hours | Charging method: Wireless | IP rating: IPX7 | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC

Stylish design
Clever interface
Battery life is one day

Still on sale as the ‘budget’ Apple Watch, this device is still well worth a look.

OK, it doesn’t have the water resistance, LTE connectivity or GPS of the top Apple Watch 3, but it also doesn’t have the price.

Being able to check when you’ve got a message, or see who’s calling and be able to make snap decisions, still is possible here and great when you’re exercising or in another situation where grabbing your phone isn’t practical.

The new enhancements from Apple’s watchOS 4 really do help this smartwatch leap forward, even if the hardware is years old now. It’s now faster, more usable and comes with watch faces that make it feel more personal. 

Read the full review: Apple Watch


Powered by WPeMatico

Apple HomePod release date, news and features

Apple HomePod release date, news and features

Update: Apple HomePod won’t be released in 2017 like the company originally planned. Apple told TechRadar that the speaker likely won’t hit store shelves until 2018, saying “We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers. We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.”  

Original story continues below…

Unveiled at WWDC 2017, the Apple HomePod is Apple’s answer to Amazon Echo and Google Home. It’s a voice assistant-equipped speaker that will help with everyday tasks, control your smart home and play music on command. 

After first appearing on phones, voice assistants entered the home in a big way with the Amazon Echo, and now Apple’s looking to get into the action. 

While Apple has had a voice assistant, Siri, on its phones for some time now, it has so far been left behind when it comes to smart speakers. Competitor Google brought its own voice assistant to dedicated hardware with the Google Home speaker last year. That all changes with the introduction of the HomePod.

We first heard reports of Apple employees testing the ‘Apple Speaker’ in their own homes in September 2016, and another round of rumors suggested home testing was still ongoing. More recently we heard rumors that the speaker was actually entering production, and eventually Apple finally confirmed the speaker at WWDC 2017. 

So, read on for all the information we have so far about Apple’s HomePod, and if you want to know what it’s like to use in person, check out our HomePod hands on review

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A smart speaker equipped with Apple’s Siri voice assistant
  • When is it out? Sometime in 2018 in the US, UK and Australia
  • What will it cost? $349 (around £265 / AU$430)

Apple Siri Speaker release date

The Apple HomePod was originally slated for release in December 2017 at a price of $349. At least that was the plan when the speaker was first announced.

Recently, Apple told TechRadar that while the company is excited to bring the speaker to the market, it’d need some more time to do so. To that end, the HomePod won’t make its original release window and should be available to purchase in the US sometime in 2018 in both white and space grey.

No UK or AU pricing has yet been announced – but we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

Apple Siri Speaker features

The HomePod is equipped with 7 tweeters on its base, along with a 4-inch upward-facing woofer. You can also pair two of the speakers together for a stereo configuration – but no specific mention yet of the ability to use the speakers in a 5.1 home cinema configuration, as is possible with rival Sonos gear.

The speaker itself is around 7-inches tall, and Apple has promised that setup will be as easy as it was with the W1 chip-equipped Apple AirPods. You’ll need an iPhone 5s or later running iOS 11 if you want it to be compatible with the speaker. 

Apple has confirmed that the new speaker will be spatially aware, so it should know how to optimise its sound to suit your home. It can detect the space that it’s in, directing channels as appropriate depending on its location.

Hopefully this should mean its sound won’t boom too much if its left in a corner, but we’ll have to see how it performs in the real world before we can say for sure. 

The speaker is equipped with 6 microphones that it will use to listen for voice commands. You can not only use it to control music, but you can also ask it questions about the music that’s currently playing, such as for the name’s of participating band members. “Who is the drummer in this?” was one specific (and cool) query Apple highlighted at the speaker’s reveal.

You can tell the speaker when you like songs in order for Apple Music to recommend more that’s similar to the tunes that’s currently being played. 

Apple boasts that the microphone array is intelligent enough to cancel out background noise so that the speaker can hear you over the sound of its own music. This is helped by its included A8 chip, which Apple claims is the most powerful processor to ever be found in a speaker. 

The A8 chip first appeared in the iPhone 6 back in 2014, so it’s not the newest chip Apple has to offer – but that’s still incredibly powerful for a speaker. 

The  HomePod is also compatible with a number of non-music features, such as reminders, giving weather information, and controlling HomeKit supported smart home devices. 

Interestingly Apple has also said that the HomePod is “a great way to send messages”, suggesting that it will include iMessage integration. 

Although the hardware is powerful, we still have some reservations about Siri as a voice assistant. Siri has some significant problems compared to competing voice services, and we’ll have to see whether the HomePod is able to address these issues. 

For example, at the moment Siri heavily prioritises Apple’s own apps rather than allowing you to use alternatives. Ask Siri to play some music, and it will only be able to play songs that are located in your Apple Music app. Apple has explicitly said that HomePod is designed to work with an Apple Music subscription. 

This is in contrast to both Alexa and Google Assistant, which both allow you to use a music app of your choice, rather than restricting you to Amazon Prime Music and Google Play music respectively.

Based on some developer digging, it doesn’t look like third-party apps are going to be allowed on the HomePod – at least, not to begin with.

At least the interface looks seamless. Someone recently got a sneak peak at the interface for connecting to a HomePod and posted a screenshot on Twitter. It seems that the speaker will integrate seamlessly into the control center. 

Amazon has been especially open with allowing developers to integrate their services into its smart speakers. It allows the creation of ‘Skills’ which essentially act as apps for the smart speaker, and so far there have been over 10,000 of them created for the speaker

Another issue with Siri is that it can sometimes be a little…stupid. Ask it when the Mona Lisa was painted (that’s 1503, art buffs), and the voice assistant will happily tell you that ‘the answer is one thousand, five hundred and three,’ rather than being intelligent enough to realise that the year should be read aloud as ‘fifteen oh-three’. 

Of course there’s always the chance that Apple will put significant effort into improving Siri before the HomePod is released in December. Google did a similar thing when it overhauled Google Now, creating Google Assistant, in the months before the Google Home was released.

Finally, comments by Apple VP Phil Schiller which suggested that Apple was thinking along the lines of a Siri speaker with an integrated screen – turned out to be false. 

A new challenger has entered the arena

Smart speakers are one of the most unexpected and cool technologies to have come out over the past couple of years, and interesting to see each of the technology giants repurposing their existing voice assistants to work in a home context. 

Apple isn’t the only one with such a device on the horizon. Harmon Kardon is readying a home speaker equipped with Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant, and between that and Google’s existing smart speaker efforts, the market is set to get crowded very quickly. 

Apple has a real chance of standing out when it comes to its home automation efforts thanks to HomeKit, but it’s not as strong when it comes to integrating with non-Apple services such as Spotify. 

Hopefully the HomePod’s audio technology will allow it to stand out against the competition. 


Powered by WPeMatico