Posts Tagged ‘tech’
Google have been busy bees, which has resulted in the release of a bunch of new stuff – notably, two new Nexus smartphones and two new Chromecast devices.
First off – the phones. Google showed off the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P, which will both run on Android’s latest OS, Marshmallow. Google reckon the phones both have improved batteries, and the 5X will have a 5.7″ ultra HD screen, and it’ll have an all-metal body, which is fancy.
The 6P meanwhile, has a 12.3-megapixel Sony sensor, which Google reckon is the best ever camera on a smartphone. It’ll also have a fingerprint scanner too.
Google have also put out the new Pixel C tablet, which is basically a larger version of the two new phones, melded together. It’ll come with a full size keyboard as well. The 5X will start at £339 while the 6P will start at £449, with pre-orders beginning on Tuesday.
In addition to these, there’s also some new Chromecasts to check out – an updated version of the existing Chromecast, and Chromecast Audio.
The new version of Chromecast will still cost £30, and will have better connectivity, thanks to an upgraded antenna system and a WiFi chip that chooses the best connection. Google have updated the app (for everyone, regardless of which dongle you’re using) so it’ll feel more like a remote, rather than doing everything through your screen.
The completely new Chromecast Audio is pretty interesting too – basically, it is a dongle where you can stream audio. It isn’t the same as Google Cast for Audio, which links up Chromecast with your speakers, but rather, it works with any phone, tablet, or laptop that is connected to your network.
It has a ‘guest mode’ too, which will let friends play music to your speakers, even if they don’t have your WiFi password. Good for those of you who like having people over to your house and all that.
Obviously, Chromecast Audio links up with Spotify and all that too. It will cost £30 as well.
As people get more jumpy about their personal privacy, the more anti-snooping devices appear on the market. BlackBerry have said they’re going to release a privacy-concerned device.
One handset that has people talking is the Blackphone 2, from Silent Circle. They have revamped their phone, and it aims to help you manage your personal data by adding software to the standard-issue Android OS.
You will be able to fine-tune what each app, site visited and service does, and what information it gives out while you use them.
This particular phone will cost you around £525, and will provoke puns based around ‘Paranoid Android’. What does it do you ask? Well, if you buy a Blackphone 2, you’ll be able to manage data sharing via the phone’s security centre, and you’ll be able to edit and mess around with each of your apps.
“At the moment it’s often about accepting everything or denying all the app permission requests,” said David Puron, head of engineering at Silent Circle. “We wanted it to be more fine-grained than that.”
“The industry is moving in the right direction and is incorporating the permission controls which is something we have done for 18 months,” he added. “It’s a good sign that these technologies are being progressively adopted.”
The phone lets you create separate virtual spaces, who you can set differing permissions for apps, depending on whether they’re being used personally, for work, or whether you’re letting your child play with your phone. It’ll enable encryption by default, and can be wiped remotely too. Sound like your kind of thing, or are you not arsed anymore and know that privacy is long dead and you might as well enjoy how Google link everything up, after poking around in your business?
Anyway, if you want the option of going off the map, it looks like there’s going to be a number of phones on the market to fulfil that need.
EE have gone and announced plans to sort out their broadband service, after they admitted it is a bit rubbish. They said that customers haven’t been getting the service they ought to be, and as part of their Broadband Service First programme, there’s going to be 500 new customer service jobs and they will be opening an operations hub to better deal with customer queries.
Francoise Clemes, chief customer service officer at EE, said: “Broadband customer service has simply not been good enough. I promise all of our customers that service is our top priority and, through Broadband Service First, we will fix this.”
So what prompted all this? Well, EE said that they have been given a kick in the pants by ‘continued, and unacceptable, high volume of complaints’.
Ofcom figures show that they’d received 0.51 complaints about EE Broadband (per 1,000 customers), which is considerably higher than the average across the industry (which stands at 0.17 complaints per 1,000). It is also the highest complaint level for any ISP since the first quarter of 2013.
In July 2015, Ofcom fined EE £1m for breaking rules on customer complaint handling, so they’re right to tackle this problem. Now it is easier to switch broadband providers than ever before, EE will be hoping that they get this right.
Companies like making little jokes when they’re talking at the public. Apple are no different. On the Apple Watch site, they’ve included a sly little meme for everyone, but blink and you’ll miss it.
You can see if you can spot it on this page. Or, if not, you can look at this image which we stole from it, and see if you can spot what’s going on. It is quite subtle. This is from the Digital Touch section.
Have a look at the image before scrolling down to the text below it.
As you can see on the Apple Watch, there’s the initials of your pals, circling the central icon. However, if you read them properly, you’ll see it spells something out.
On the thing that tells you how to use ‘Digital Touch’, which is the feature that allows you to send your pals messages by vibrating their Apple Watch, you will note that Apple have RickRolled everyone.
If you don’t know what a RickRoll is, firstly, have you been living up a tree for the past few years? Secondly, it is when someone surreptitiously makes you listen to or read Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ hit. There’s other ways of RickRolling, but they always feature our Rick.
Fair play Apple.
German airline Lufthansa is planning to offer broadband access on their short and medium-haul flights from next year. They say that a deal with Deutsche Telekom and satellite crew Inmarsat will let passengers enjoy “the same speed and quality” of internet access they get at home.
Naturally, this being an airline, they’re going to charge for it, and as yet, they haven’t decided how much.
Internet access is still relatively rare on flights, and other forms of public transport, which is daft. You’d think, in 2015, everyone would be on it, but alas not. Will this move from Lufthansa get everyone else’s arses in gear? We hope so.
Norwegian airlines have it right, offering broadband to travellers for free.
Lufthansa reckon that their broadband will allow you to stream videos, which is pretty great. As we all know, public WiFi can be a bit on the delicate side. When you add delays in pages loading, and high costs to low speeds, Lufthansa won’t need to do much if they want to wow passengers.
Anyway, if everyone else could get a move on – it’d be a really good way of making sure your customers don’t spend their flights moaning and will be able to ignore that child that wants to scream its way through the sky.
Most people charge their mobiles overnight, because you can get it revved up and ready to go while you’re asleep, which is the only time you’re not using it. However, some people have said that overcharging your phone is bad for it.
Is that true?
Well, according to one tech writer, it isn’t. In fact, overcharging any modern device won’t affect them in the slightest.
Answering a question on Quora, tech writer Jesse Hollington said: “You simply can’t overcharge an iPhone, or any other modern electronic device, for that matter. When your iPhone is plugged in and reaches 100%, it switches to external power and simply runs from that.”
Basically, his explanation shows that any device that uses a Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer battery has to incorporate a charging circuit that cuts off charging power when it reaches 100%.
Hollington added that, if you charge your battery before it is fully depleted, that is actually the preferable way of doing things, regardless of what the bloke down the pub told you. This is something to do with ‘charge cycles’. He said: “Every time you charge your iPhone up from 90%, you’re using 10% of a complete charge cycle. This means you could charge your iPhone up from 90%-100% 5,000 times before you’d have to worry about running out of charge cycles.”
“However, if you deliberately drain your battery to zero and then recharge it, you’re needlessly using up a complete charge cycle. Obviously if you’re using your iPhone until the battery goes dead, that’s fair, but there’s no need to deliberately drain it before recharging it, and you’ll actually shorten your battery life if you do so.”
That’s if you can even use your iPhone. That said, if you have been stung by the iOS 9 update, here’s some things to try out before throwing your phone out of the window.
While the government are trying to stop people from undertaking Freedom of Information requests, so we can’t look at their correspondence and dodgy deals, funnily enough, they’re not so concerned about privacy when it comes to the public’s messages.
MI5 boss Andrew Parker is asking the government to get new powers to monitor communications, which means that encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp and iMessage could be banned.
Of course, they’re blaming terrorists again, and Parker has said internet companies have a “responsibility” to share information about their users, and that the use of strong encryption in apps should be illegal.
This backs David Cameron’s views on the matter, where he said that he doesn’t want to “allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read”. Maybe, like the government’s FOI idea, we should all charge the authorities £600-a-pop if they want to look in our messages. Sound fair?
Parker reckons that encryption is “creating a situation where law enforcement agencies and security agencies can no longer obtain under proper legal warrant the contents of communications between people they have reason to believe are terrorists”.
“They are using secure apps and internet communication to try to broadcast their message and incite and direct terrorism amongst people who live here who are prepared to listen to their message.” He added that it “is in nobody’s interests that terrorists should be able to plot and communicate out of the reach of any authorities with proper legal power”.
Just imagine, if we can’t have encrypted messages, what baddies might be able to do, if they can hack into everyone’s messages too! Of course, Apple and Facebook (who own iMessage and WhatsApp respectively) are keen to commit to their users privacy (apart from all the times they use your details to make cash and the like).
Anyway, keep an eye out for the Home Secretary bringing back the Snooper’s Charter, as your privacy isn’t too much of a concern to the current government.
Do you have an iPhone or whatever? Well, there’s the new iOS9 knocking about and you might be wondering whether or not you should update to it. You invariably will do this anyway, but if you want to read some words first, here we go.
What’s new with the latest update?
Well, you can download it today and for starters, you can get a new app on the Home screen which will pull in the news from a variety of places. That’s really boring though as you can already download loads of apps like that anyway.
You’ll be more interested in the Notes app, which now comes as standard on the iPhone and iPad. It has also been tinkered with as well. As well as having to-do lists, you can put photos in it, sketch things with your finger and add maps.
Speaking of maps, the Maps app has been updated as well. Remember when it was a disaster and everyone laughed at it? Those were good times. Anyway, the iOS9 update of will give you details about public transport and that. As tech companies make loads of money from you spending money and sharing your behaviour with them, Maps will now pinpoint the nearest shops to you, and such.
There’s the iCloud Drive too, which is supposed to make it easier for you to find files and the like. You can also organise apps without leave the drive, and on the iPad, you can open a second app without leaving the one you’re currently using.
Apple have messed with the search screen as well, which you get at by swiping right on the home page.
For those on Android, who have been eyeing up an iPhone, you can now migrate your Android phone to Apple, in the ’Move to iOS’ app. That’ll fling all your messages, contacts, photos, and mail accounts to your Apple device.
Does that sound good? Great. Get updating. Does that sound like a load of shit? Don’t bother updating. We really don’t care either way.
The exciting people who do market research at Ovum have been to 30 countries around the world to see what makes people like their broadband providers. What did they find while they were on their jollies? They have deduced that the minimum download speed that truly satisfies is 10Mbps.
As well as that, they also found that everyone expects three second page load times, a reliable and stable connection, and good tech support. Are you listening broadband providers? This is what people want, dammit.
So when it comes to living up to these criteria, Sweden came out on top, with the UK in 8th place, equal with the United States of America and Russia.
Now, Ofcom reckon that the average UK broadband user gets 23 Mbps, but not everyone agrees. In the State of the Internet report, Britons are getting an average of 11.6Mbps, which gets into Ovum’s good books by the skin of its teeth.
Basically, the average broadband customers wants the same things – they want Netflix to play without buffering, they want their internet pages to load quickly and, if you’re downloading stuff, that to complete in a timely fashion. Gamers probably have gripes too, but they’re clearly too busy worrying about ethics in games journalism.
One thing that providers need to worry about though, is that, as 4K video picks up interest, customers will be demanding more. Not to mention that there’s going to be more and more devices relying on a good internet connection, with phones, tablets, and smart appliances. They better get their arses in gear, and fast.
EE are getting serious with their ultrafast 4G+ network, shoving out to everyone in London. As if people in London don’t have enough already. What does it mean? Well, 4G+ means faster browsing, quicker streaming and all the things you imagine you’d get with something with a plus symbol on the end.
The provider is trying to match the demands of people who do more bandwidth-heavy things on their phones. EE reckon that customers with 4G+ devices have downloaded twice as much of bandwidth hungry data compared to the year before.
On average, EE say that 4G+ customers download 4GB of data a month.
“We’ve built our network with lots of capacity because we knew that video was growing at a phenomenal rate and customers need a fast connection when they’re downloading large video files to their phones,” explained Fotis Karonis, chief technology officer for EE.
“We already have 4G coverage for 93 per cent of the population across the UK and that has made us number one for mobile data, complementing our industry-leading reliability and voice performance.
“Now with more 4G+ sites giving double the capacity in the busiest areas, we’re getting even faster for our customers, and that extra capacity means improved reliability for everything you do on your phone.”
Can’t be bothered wading through yesterday’s liveblogs and don’t want a load of bloody analysis. Well, basically, here’s a list with some jokes in it.
1. Apple CEO Tim Cook still looks like Paul O’Grady.
2. There’s two new iPhones out. One is called the iPhone 6s and the other one is called the iPhone 6S Plus. Apple reckon they’re better than the old iPhones. They would say that though.
3. There’s an iPad Pro. It is large. Again, Apple reckon it is miles better than the other iPads.
4. There’s also an Apple Pencil. Steve Jobs ranted about the humble stylus in 2007, but Steve Jobs is dead, so there’s no point in referring to what he likes and dislikes constantly.
5. The Apple Watches will have straps and that, made in collaboration with Hermès. You might not have heard of this particular company, but you can Google them to see if you care. Or just look at this picture and you’ll get the idea.
6. Everything we assumed about Apple TV was correct. It’ll have Siri, a remote that acts like a controller from Nintendo’s Wii, and it’ll have a new interface which looks like Netflix.
7. That ’3D touch’ thing we’ve been going on about, where you can do different functions on your devices by pressing down harder on your screen? They did it. It is totally a thing.
8. They’ll still be more expensive than other phones. Apple fans don’t mind that. It is better news for Android fans who like complaining about the price of Apple products.
9. OneRepublic played at the event. They sound like this.
10. There’s a new OS due. You don’t need to know anything else, so shut up.
Are you an Apple fan who wished they could have the Adblock Plus extension? Well, wish no more as it has been turned into a thing for iOS, as Apple’s latest mobile operating system gets with the advertless programme!
So, with the imminent arrival of iOS 9, it looks like mobile Safari will let you block all those pesky adverts, if that’s your thing.
It is also available for Android is available in Google Play too, which will annoy all those advertising executives with a sports car parked outside their office.
Of course, this is a big problem for Google, because huge swathes of their income is a result of advertising, and a while ago, Google removed the commercial killing app for Android. However, you can still get it direct from the source.
“In 2013 an app we developed called AdBlock Plus for Android was kicked out – that’s why you have to side-load it now,” said Ben Williams, communications manager for Eyeo who make AdBlock. “That product was focused on in-app ads; this one is entirely different. It’s a browser. We did not negotiate with Google. We simply took it to their App Store and they accepted it this morning.”
This is a bold move from Apple, as with iOS 9, they’re basically saying that blocking adverts is a legitimate thing to do. Not that anyone needs Apple or Google to make it legit. Courts have decreed that blocking adverts is perfectly legal and if Apple or Google don’t like it, then hard cheese. Blocking ads isn’t just making your world less annoying – it also saves bandwidth and time, reduces data consumption and page load times, and all manner of other stuff. It limits the likelihood of you seeing malicious ads too.
And more and more people are using ad-blocking software. For a woolly figure, use of such software is up 41% in the last year.
Lasers are really exciting in films, but in real life, they’re not nearly as fun. They don’t go ‘pew pew’ and no-one has ever blown a spaceship up with one, as far as we know. However, things are hotting up in laser world, which is bad news for automated car enthusiasts.
Someone’s assembled a gadget, that you can make at home if you’re into that sort of thing, which can disable the systems that self-driving cars use to see where they’re going.
This is according to a security researcher called Jonathan Petit, who showed off his car-halting skills by switching on his modified, cheapo laser which creates pretend objects in front of autonomous cars, which makes them stop. Perfect if you’re thinking about getting into car-hijacking.
Petit, principle scientist at software company Security Innovation, cobbled together something that was similar to a laser pen and added a pulse generator, which you can make with a Raspberry Pi. Altogether, it set him back £40 and his gadget fooled the sensor on the cars, which are known as lidars.
“I can spoof thousands of objects and basically carry out a denial of service attack on the tracking system so it’s not able to track real objects,” Petit told IEEE Spectrum. ”I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want.”
“I don’t think any of the lidar manufacturers have thought about this or tried this,” he added.
If this all sounds like a bit of a faff, and you still want to annoy some drivers in a dangerous manner, you could just buy a laser pen and shine it directly into their eyes. Of course, if you end up getting arrested, we won’t bail you out. You’re on your own with this nonsense.
Quick! Stick some Blu-Tac on your front facing cameras! There’s a new ransomware porn app on Android named ‘Adult Player’, and it is taking photos of its victims while you’re ‘on the job’. The app then uploads the images on a screen, and then hits you with a ransom message.
That’s not very nice is it?
The security firm Zscaler rumbled the app, which is masquerading as a video player for dirty films. When you start watching some knacky films, it starts to silently take photos of you. If you’re messing with your uglies at the time, this could be described as a ‘compromising situation’. Then, the app demands $500 (which is over £300 in sterling).
The screen which shows the ransom is designed so it’ll stick around, even if you reboot your device. It won’t allow you to use your device and will keep the screen active with annoying, and distressing messages.
“During the course of our daily malware hunt, we came across a new mobile ransomware variant which leverages pornography to lure victims into downloading and installing it,” said the firm.
So, to be on the safe side, you should only download apps from the official Google Play store and other trusted app sites. If you’re still worried, you can look at the ‘Unknown Sources’ option under the ‘Security’ settings of your device. Failing that, you could film the most embarrassing sex tape ever, send it to every single person you know and work with, and you’ll be free from all future blackmail and ransom.
Might be best to avoid downloading dodgy apps for the time being though.