Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Latest SwiftKey Beta lets you to put your own photos as the background

SwiftKey has been one of the most famous keyboard apps in the Android world. Back before quality keyboards such as Google’s Gboard existed, SwiftKey was available to help users attain a favourable typing experience. As Android refined itself, many other alternatives presented themselves. However, SwiftKey has always been one of the most downloaded keyboard apps. They have released plenty of updates to cater to the crowd.

Now in the beta version, the company has pushed out another much sought after feature. Now, users can put their own pictures as the theme for the keyboard. This update was pushed to users only last week. Android users of Google’s Gboard might find this feature familiar. Google’s offering has had this feature for quite a while.

How do you use this new feature in the SwiftKey keyboard?


The process to use this feature is quite simple and easy. All one has to do is access the gallery and upload the picture to the keyboard app. The next step is to adjust the brightness of the picture to a level you prefer. This is all you have to do. The picture you selected will be the background from that point onwards. As mentioned above, the process is quite easy to do. The app also has plenty of other themes you can make use of.


You will be presented with a few more options too. You can choose to remove the key outlines or keep them should you wish to. Displaying the “long-press” symbols above is another option you can think enable or opt out of.

The beta update brings another feature to the table. It has support for a new language. The new language is Ossetian. While it is not widely used by people, there are still plenty of people who can take advantage of this new language

Monday, 30 October 2017

How to Secure Your Webcam: Online security tips

From smartphones and tablets to notebook PCs, webcam seem to be standard equipment these days. Just about every device we use has a camera on it. Did you ever stop to think that while you"re staring at your screen, someone on the Internet might be staring back at you?


How can you be sure that no one is watching you without your permission?

Many webcams on notebook computers have indicator lights on them that let you know when your camera is actively capturing video.

t may be possible (on some cameras) to disable the activity light through software hacks or modifying configuration settings. So, just because you don"t see an activity light on doesn"t mean that your webcam isn"t still capturing video.

What can you do to secure your webcam?

The Simple Solution: Cover It Up

Cover It Up

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones. If you want to be absolutely sure that no one is watching you through your webcam, get some electrical tape and cover it. If you don"t want any tape residue on your camera then you can use a longer strip of tape and fold it back on itself. Not even the best hacker in the world can defeat electrical tape.

If you want to get a little more sophisticated, you can roll up a coin in the electrical tape so that the weight of the coin helps the tape stay positioned over the camera. When you want to use the camera, just lift the coin up and fold it back over the top of your computer screen.

The LED light means nothing

The LED light means nothing

Most of us tend to depend on the LED light (green or red) to show us that the webcam is working and recording. It has been proven that hackers can now turn this light off remotely leaving you completely unaware of when the cam turns on. Most people also leave their laptops open or half-shut when they"re not using it - opening up our lives to cybercrime without our knowledge.

Use a sticky note to cover the webcam.

Don"t click that link


This is an almost cliched warning, yet people fall in the trap of bogus links disguised as promotion emails or even work emails from seemingly legitimate sources. When you click a phishing link, it downloads a program on to your laptop which allows remote access to your webcam and audio equipment.

Check every email address and if possible, contact the sender separately to find if the email with links was sent by the person intentionally.

Update your software

Update your software

Trial versions and outdated software are susceptible to internet hackers and upgrades can help keep them at bay.

Use separate user accounts

Use separate user accounts

Some tech geeks recommend using separate user accounts - one as an admin account solely for software installations, upgrades and malware checks and the other for usual activity and no software edit permissions. This is just an additional level of security that can be set up easily.

Tape over webcams of your phablets/tablets

Tape over webcams

Just like laptops, mobile devices are also susceptible to camera hacking. A simple sticker tape can give you a feeling of security while also reminding you to be vigilant every time you"re online.

Did you know? Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sells specially designed sticker tape sets for webcams

Switch that Bluetooth off

Switch that Bluetooth off

Keep Bluetooth connectivity on your mobile devices off before and after you"ve used it.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Rumors about the OnePlus 5T

Over the past few weeks, rumours about a new smartphone from OnePlus, called the OnePlus 5T have increased. With the company itself teasing us about the phone, it seems a release is inevitable. It will also be in line with the company’s strategy of the last year.

What do we know about the OnePlus 5T?

The latest of the leaks even show us how the phone would look. The leak further states the announcement date of the device. The leak was obtained by GizChina. For those who do not know, Amazon is the only seller of the company’s flagship phone. GizChina has obtained a promotional page that Amazon had prepared for the launch of the new model. The page is shown below.

oneplus 5t

What are the specs of the OnePlus 5T?

According to the rumors over the weeks, the new model will come with a six inch Full HD Plus display. This is a major change from the previous edition which had a 5.5 inch screen that was maxed out at Full HD. The aspect ratio of the device is 18:9. This means the device will look quite similar to the Samsung S8 and the Pixel 2 XL. It is said to come with a Snapdragon 835 processor. The RAM will vary between 6GB or 8 GB as will the storage between 64 GB and 128 GB. A 20 MP dual camera system will be on the back and a 16 MP camera on the front will take care of your selfie needs. It will also feature a rear based fingerprint scanner due to the lack of bezels.

Chances are the battery and the cameras will be tweaked with a bit. This was what was done last year with the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T and its likely the company will follow the same here.

The Porsche Electric Car Makes A Public Appearance

Porsche has announced that they will be releasing a high powered electric car. The electric is slated to be released in 2019. It is said to be one of the best competitors to Tesla and its power over the high end electric automobile sector.

Background info on the Porsche Mission E

This was first announced all the way back in 2015. It was a design language that was unlike anything Porsche had previously made. The company promised that the vehicle will have six hundred of horsepower and will hit zero to sixty two miles per hour under three and a half seconds. It will top two hundred and fifty kilometres per hour too.

The spy photos and the video

Over the recent past, there has been a few glimpse of the vehicle. Now, however, there is a video where we see the mule test car speeding around the legendary Nürburgring race track. It was only last month that pictures surfaced of Porsche using Tesla vehicles to aid their developing process. This does not mean they want a similar car.

Porsche has said that they want to develop an electric car that has the race performance that the public has come to expect from the German automaker’s vehicles. All electric automobiles are capable of great torque and quick accelerations. The pitfall is that they can not maintain high speeds for a long time. A real time example is Tesla. The performance vehicle from Elon Musk’s company could never post impressive numbers on the Nürburgring race track. This was because as the race dragged on, the maximum power output of the vehicle kept taking a hit. The battery and the driving units of an electric car need to be cooled over time. This is what Porsche is trying to work around and build a vehicle with a great endurance and longer range.

You can now make multiple stops on your Uber trip

Uber has been going through a multitude of problems but that has not stopped them from delivering new updates to their service. Their most recent update allows a rider to input a maximum of 3 stops during their ride. This can be done from inside the app. You no longer have to talk to the driver and direct him to the places you want to go.

How to use this feature from Uber

Uber has given a step by step instruction on how to make use of this feature.

 “To use the feature, tap “where to?” and then “+”. Add the addresses of your stops, and then request your ride. Should you need to make changes during your trip, you can also add and remove stops in real time. Your driver will automatically receive directions to each of the stops so you can sit back and relax”.

What about the pricing?

The final fare of the ride will increase as you include more stops along the ride. This is obvious. Uber calculates the final price of the ride based on the ride’s time as well as the distance. For an instance, if your Uber is waiting till you buy your dinner, this waiting time will cause your final fare to increase.

In the event that you have used Lyft before, you are sure to be accustomed to this feature. Lyft has implemented this feature all the way back in the month of August. The two companies heavily borrow features from each other and are virtually no different from each other when compared.

Uber has been paying a lot of attention to drivers. They recently brought an in-app tipping option to their app. This was another feature that Lyft has implemented for quite a while. They have also added higher fees for waiting time and cancellations.


Lexus announces semi autonomous driving will be available in 2020

Lexus is newest automobile maker to take the step into automatic driving. The company has given an announcement saying their “Highway Teammate” advanced driver assist system (ADAS) will be present for consumers in the year of 2020. This is on the heels of that spectacular LS+ concept that Lexus unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Show this month.

Information on the Lexus Highway Teammate System

The framework from the company will give automatic driving from the entrance to the exit on automobile only roads. The company further states that the system will “enable automated merging, lane changes and diverging, as well as keep a vehicle in its lane and maintain vehicle-to-vehicle distance,”.

Lexus did not give information on what type of sensors and cameras it will be making use of. This means we will not know about the restrictions present in Highway Teammate. This is, of course, until the company reveals more on the topic. Presently, all advanced driver assist systems need some kind of input from the driver and certain ADAS can be used only on some roadways. The automaker has said that they will combine connected-car technology and AI to make sure that the automatic driving is safe.

The competition Lexus" faces

Once Highway Teammate releases, Lexus will face competition with a huge number of automakers. These include Tesla, Cadillac, Audi, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz among many others. Furthermore, most of these automakers have quite a lead in the section. It will take Lexus a lot of effort to catch up to them.

Conflict with the other automatic driving systems from Toyota

For those who do not know, Lexus is handled by Toyota. Toyota is developing two other automatic driving systems. They are called Chauffeur and Guardian. It is not clear on how similar the three systems will be. We don"t know if they will be borrowing features from each other.

Bloodhound SSC prepares to break the land speed record

The Bloodhound SSC project was announced nine years ago at the Science Museum in London, and it has now finally finished its first test run.

Information on the Bloodhound SSC trial run

This test was done at a closed air runway at the Newquay Airport, which is located in Cornwall. The enormous vehicle raced at speeds exceeding two hundred miles per hour. The team has set a goal of reaching the speed of seven hundred and sixty three miles per hour. This trial run is nowhere close to the end goal but it shows the world that the car is more than wishful thinking. At the end, the team want to reach a thousand miles per hour in the Kalahari Desert. The desert is in South America.

Background info on the Bloodhound SSC

The vehicle makes use of a jet engine for the thrust. The engine in question is an Eurojet EJ200. This engine is powerful enough to speed the car up to six hundred and fifty miles per hour. The final framework will have another rocket system integrated into it. It will be provided by Nordic aerospace company Nammo.

During the first attempt to break the record, the car will make use of a single monopropellant rocket. It will deliver up to forty kilo Newton of thrust. Once that is done, the rocket will be replaced by a hybrid rocket system that will work with the jet engine. Together, they can help the vehicle reach one thousand miles per hour. The total thrust will be two hundred and twelve kilo Newton’s of thrust. To put it into context, it will be 8 x the power given by the starting grid in Formula 1.


The Bloodhound will be driven by an RAF pilot called Andy Green. Coincidently, he was the rider who set the existing world record with the Thrust SSC all the way back in 1997.

Garmin vívoactive 3 Hands On Review

Garmin has released another one of their fantastic fitness trackers in the form of the Garmin vívoactive 3. Here is our review on the fitness tracker.

Design of the Garmin vívoactive 3

Unlike the previous model, the recent one has a more streamlined design that looks elegant and classy. It comes with stainless steel bezels and Gorilla Glass on the screen for protection. Basically put, this is a design that looks good with any kind of attire; both formal and informal. The fitness tracker can be bought in three different colours; Black with Stainless Hardware, Black with Slate Hardware, and White with Stainless Hardware. Furthermore, the thin design is much easier on the hand and is more comfortable than the majority of the competition.

Durability and navigation of the Garmin vívoactive 3

As mentioned, the device comes with Gorilla glass on the display and features water resistance to a maximum depth of fifty meters. However, the heart sensor will not work when in water and the fitness tracker is authorized for swimming pools, not open waters.

Activity tracking of the Garmin vívoactive 3

This device has up to fifteen profiles loaded on to it. It can easily handle basic tasks like running and swimming while also supporting more intricate forms like yoga. Garmin is widely famed for their GPS tracking systems and it is well implemented in this situation. The Garmin connect app shows a lot of information once you have finished a jog. This includes data on avg speed, cadence, maximum speed, heart rate, calories, steps, elevation (thanks to the in-built barometric altimeter), and even your estimated VO2 max.

Smartwatch features of the Garmin vívoactive 3

It offers the basics you would expect. These include checking notifications, replying to texts, viewing the climate and so on. It even has Garmin Pay so you can pay without taking the phone out of your pocket.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Sony Xperia XZ1: Hands On Review

The once prominent Japanese maker released their new phone; the Sony Xperia XZ1. Here we take a look at the device.

Design of the Sony Xperia XZ1

The Xperia XZ1 looks extremely natural and you can say the same when you touch it. It includes a similar general square shaped outline Sony has utilized for quite a long time. This device has a slight refresh, highlighting the circle design Sony executed a year ago which adjusts the sides for a smoother design. This circle configuration now reaches out to the best and base parts of the telephone. The smartphone manufacturer has tried to bring about a refresh of its design. However, it has not worked and the design looks very outdated. It has large bezels on the front that further ruin the design. The build quality is really great though and it does not suffer from fingerprint smudges.

Specs of the Sony Xperia XZ1

The device comes with a 5.2 inch display. Most of the smartphones are going towards AMOLED and QHD but Sony has stuck with an IPS LCD display. However, it is a great display and the colour reproduction is quite good. Even when it came to outdoor visibility, the phone held its own and  is also HDR10 certified.

Xperia XZ1

It has 2017 era specs such as a Snapdragon 835 processor and up to 4GB of RAM. This means multi tasking is a breeze and scrolling smooth as butter. It even played heavy games with no issue. The Sony device has 64 GB of storage and supports the insertion of micro SD cards to a maximum of 256 GB. Sony’s device is IP68 certified so you can dunk it in the water. The phone does not have a dual camera and is a single 19 MP Exmor RS sensor. It comes with 4K recording and slow mo at 960 fps.

WhatsApp unveils live location sharing

Information on the new WhatsApp feature

The company announced this yesterday through a blog. They are calling the feature “Live Location Sharing”. In the firm’s own words, they want to enable a “secure way to let people know where you are.” If you want to use it, you will be pleased to know it operated similar to the original feature where you could share your current location to someone in your contacts. On the WhatsApp conversation, you will be able to see the attach icon. It is in the form of a paperclip. Once you click that, click on Location. This is where you can find the new feature. Once you click on that feature, you can send a real time location to a person on your contact or even a group, should you wish to.

WhatsApp Share your location

Is the WhatsApp feature secure?

Of course, the real worry with this feature is the security. The element takes advantage and utilizes end-to-end to encryption to keep the connection secure. Furthermore, you can quit giving your location whenever you want. The word from the company is that it is additionally with an expiring timer. They did not tell us how long this timer would stay in effect.

Google has a similar function too. They brought the feature to its Maps some time back and so has Snapchat.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Huawei is working on a foldable phone for 2018

2017 was the year when bezels were out and big screens were in – could 2018 be the year when everyone brings out a foldable phone? We’ve already seen the ZTE Axon M, featuring a dual display with a hinge, and it sounds like Huawei has something similar in the works for a potential 2018 launch.

Huawei foldable phone for 2018

The company’s CEO Richard Yu told that Huawei already has a “working sample” that it’s working on refining. Apparently it follows the blueprint set down by the Axon M, but the manufacturer’s engineers are working on reducing the gap between the phone’s two displays.

For the time being at least, it seems as though foldable phones will be two displays stitched together, but in the longer term we could see one seamless display that can bend in the middle. Yu says Huawei could launch its first foldable phone next year, but the timeline isn’t set yet.

The future is foldable

In terms of looks and form factor, smartphones haven’t changed all that much over the past decade, although the phones of 2017 certainly look better than their predecessors. Foldable technology could be just the hardware innovation that handset makers have been looking for.

Rumors of a foldable Samsung phone called the Galaxy X have been swirling for years, and it sounds like 2018 might finally be the year when it sees the light of day. Meanwhile, LG and Apple have also been tipped to launch something similar in the not too distant future.

It’s certainly a massive engineering challenge to get this kind of technology working, and working well, but if the big companies can crack it then it’s likely to lead to a boost in sales. As soon as Huawei makes anything official we will of course let you know, but in the meantime there’s the Huawei Mate 10 to consider.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Huawei Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro are released

Huawei has released two varieties of its smartphone; the Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro. Both are high-end phones with modern designs, big displays, and advanced software.

Design and Display of the Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro

Huawei isn’t making use of its characteristic all-metal uni body design. The front and back of these phones are glass while the frame remains aluminium. The Mate 10 has a 5.9-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) LCD display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The Mate 10 Pro, however, has a 6-inch Full HD+ (2160×1080) OLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. That makes the Mate 10 Pro slightly taller than the Mate 10. However, it is lighter. In addition, the Mate 10 Pro’s OLED display benefits from HDR10 support.

Spec sheet of the Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro

Huawei created minor differences in design but made both equally powerful. The phones feature a Huawei-made Kirin 960 with 4GB or 6GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. A 20MP and a 12MP camera are on the back. On the front is an 8MP front-facing camera. 4000mAh battery powers the device and Android 8.0 sitting behind EMUI 8.0.

Camera of the Mate 10 & Mate 10 Pro

There are two cameras on the back. They are both co engineered by Leica. One of the cameras is an RGB lens while the other is a monochrome lens. Together they merge two versions of the same picture for better clarity and colour accuracy. They do not provide enhanced zoom like the iPhone or the Note 8.

Huawei is also hyping up its neural processing unit. The NPU in the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro handles artificial intelligence. This means the phones can deliver real-time responses to users when handling scene and object recognition in addition to translation. The AI will learn the user’s behaviour as time goes on.

Apple Pencil in consideration for future iPhone

Apple is said to be pondering the inclusion of an Apple Pencil in the future iPhones. The accessory might launch with the 2019 edition of the iPhone.

Why is Apple considering the use of an Apple Pencil

Apple has always been against the use of a stylus. Late founder and CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, whole heartedly hated the idea of using a stylus with an iPhone. However, recent years have shown how popular the accessory is among consumers. The Note series from Samsung has always included their stylus. They are the only phone manufacturers who make use of a stylus. This has helped propel the series up and is extremely sought after by consumers. For years the South Korean rival has used the stylus on the Galaxy Note to separate itself from Apple’s phone.

Now with Steve jobs out of the picture, Apple can go ahead and directly challenge Samsung. It already makes use of a stylus for the iPad Pro.

Which company will make the Apple Pencil?

Apple makes the iPad Pro’s stylus. However, that may not be the case for iPhone in 2019 or beyond. The iPhone’s smaller body could prove to be difficult for implementation. This means an outside company might have to step in and partner with Apple to create a custom stylus. Samsung, for example, works with Wacom to produce the stylus for Galaxy Note devices.

Another leak says Apple might use super capacitor technology over electromagnetic resonance technology due to cost and realism. The former is cheaper and gives a more natural writing experience for styluses.

Apple’s A-series processor will have to undergo major improvements to accommodate for an advanced stylus. There has been chatter that the iPhone X has reduced touch performance due to lacking horsepower in the new A11 Bionic. Improvements over the A10 from 2016 are not impressing analysts.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Hands On: LG V30

What started out as an experimental branch of LG’s mobile division has quickly turned into the very face of LG’s flagship device. After the launch of the impressive but ultimately forgettable G6, LG has come up with a device that could easily be the best device of the year; the LG V30

Design of the LG V30

LG’s latest flagship follows the current design trend of bezel less phones to present an all screen design on the front. It looks very much like the screen design of the G6 but with additional tweaks to the final design. The screen is a huge 6 inch OLED Display at a resolution of 2880 x 1440.

The dimensions are set at 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm with a weight of 158 grams. The LG V30 comes with a headphone jack that lets you experience the Hi-Fi audio capabilities of the device.

On the back is a gently curving glass where the fingerprint sensor sits right in the middle. This placement is much cleverer than Samsung’s implementation. The fingerprint sensor doubles as the power button of the device. A little above that is the phone’s dual camera set up.

Features of the LG V30

The LG V30 has wireless charging and impressively comes with IP68 protection against water and dust. Added to that the smartphone has military graded protection for additional durability. Of course, this does not guarantee that the screen will never crack. However, you can be assured of some degree of safety.

The iconic second display of the V series is missing. It has been turned into a software feature in the form of a floating bar.

There is a 3300 mAh battery that is said to easily last a day or more. Thanks to the waterproofing, the battery is sealed and not removable. On the

On the back, the main camera is 16 MP with an aperture of f/1.6. On paper, this should give it better low light shots than all the other smartphones currently on the market. The other lens handles the wide angle shots and comes in at 13 MP with an aperture of f/1.9. on the front is a 5MP Camera. Even though megapixels do not tell the complete story, 5 MP is quite poor by 2017 standards. While LG has installed plenty of fun features, the picture quality is not up to par with the rest of the competition.

The LG V30 is also the first phone that will be readily available around the world. Unlike the previous generations which launched solely in the US, Australia and some regions in Asia, the new model will be available in more areas.

Microsoft Surface Book Design review

Microsoft has been dabbling in laptop hardware for a very short time but they have quickly risen to the top to become the trend setter for devices running Windows. It convinced an initially sceptic public and greatly gained a reputation after the release of a stellar Surface Pro 3. Now they are back with the Surface Book. Similar to the Surface tabs in the previous year, this edition also comes as a unique two in one hybrid.

Design wise, the Surface Book has an extremely futuristic design. The snake like hinges and the silver aluminium design gives this laptop a minimalistic and yet eye catching design.

The interior of the laptop completely consists of metal except for the glassy touchpad. The same story applies to the exterior with a complete metallic design, save for the mirror Windows badge and the camera. The unique hinge adds to the futuristic appeal and holds up the laptop quite well.

The keyboard is a joy to type on thanks to the 1.6 mm key travel not to mention the tactile noise you hear when you press a button. As mentioned above, the touchpad has a glass finish and is quite precise and easy to use.

Turning your laptop into a tablet is also quite easy. Although many companies already offer this feature, Microsoft’s implementation is the most seamless by far. All one has to do is press the eject button on the keyboard or the button on task bar. The screen will turn off for a sec and you will then get a notification saying it is safe to remove the screen.

Another feature that sets the Surface Book apart is its inclusion of a graphics processor into a 2 in 1 system. The NVidia GeForce GPU makes it easier for the laptop handle media as well as gaming. This sort of implementation has been seen in previous machines but again, none have perfected it as Microsoft has done. In the previous cases, the laptops had to be restarted if you planned to detach the laptop. In the case of Microsoft’s Surface Book, it only needs about a second or two to accomplish the same feat. What makes this feature more exciting is that it offers plenty of room for future upgrades to expand the usage.

The Surface Book does weight quite a bit with a weight of 1.51 kilograms. This is without the optional graphics card that increases the weight to 1.58 kg. The laptop has an aspect ratio of 3:2 and comes with a 13.5 inch screen that delivers great images.

Ring announces a cheaper home security system

Ring put out an announcement today about a product that will bring together its array of security cameras, lights and doorbells. It will be a complete home security system that can help you keep an eye on your living space.

What is most interesting about this announcement is the time at which it has arrived. Around a fortnight ago, Nest announced plans for a fully fledged home security system. It was called the Nest Secure and has a number pad and sensors to cover a couple of entrances. The price was $499.

Information on the Ring Home Security System

Ring names its system the Ring Protect and the major advantage it has over Nest’s product is the price tag. Available for $199, the starter package comes with sensors for one entrance, the main unit as well as a motion detector. An additional sensor for an entrance will set you back $20 while a motion sensor costs $30. To put the pricing into context, you can put up sensors for ten entrances and 5 rooms before you equal the price of the starter package from Nest.

Ring also provides a monitoring service. It works in a subscription manner which is also quite when compared with the competition. Costing $100 per annum, the company offers a service. This service calls your house in the event that the alarm is triggered. As of yet, there is no information regarding the monitoring system by Nest while the monitoring service by ADT will set you back four hundred and fifty dollars for the cheapest option.

Doubts on the Ring Home Security System

We still do not know the quality of the monitoring service that the company offers. We don"t know if it will be as good as the competition or will it be better. ADT has been delivering the same system for years with no major changes to the system. Ring along with Nest have been trying to change it, but so far there has not been much of a change.

Currently, Ring’s home security system does not offer many smart features. The sensors monitor the house and they can all be accessed or viewed through the app. Ring CEO and founder Jamie Siminoff says that over time Ring will be developed to do more and that the company will add more smart features. Unfortunately, he did not specify the details of this.

Another advantage Ring has over Nest is that it is releasing much sooner than Nest. The line of products from the latter is releasing on November while Ring’s products are scheduled to release in October.

SpaceX aims to land Spaceships on Mars by 2022

Elon Musk has spoken more about his envisioned plan to colonize the planet of Mars. The owner of Tesla says he is aiming to land a minimum of 2 cargo ships on Mars by the year 2022; a mere five years away. These cargo ships will put in place power generators as well as mining and life support frameworks that will assist endeavours. He further added that ships with crew members will reach two years after that. Musk revealed these plans during the International Astronautical Congress set in Australia.

In order to reach these deadlines, the rocket company will start building the first of its spaceships by mid 2018.  The rocket is called the BFR, an abbreviation for Big Falcon Rocket. It is made by SpaceX. In the event that Musk reaches his deadlines, the people who look to live in Mars will go there in comfort thanks to the BFR. It can take up to one hundred passengers thanks to its 40 cabins. The rocket will also house many common areas and an entertainment system.

Elon Musk claims that his SpaceX company has figured out ways to pay for these expensive trips but he chose not to reveal any information about the methods or the cost of everything. The company currently focuses on launching satellites and services and maintains the International Space Station and they think they can make enough money from these ventures to sponsor their goals of colonizing Mars. They are also looking into ways of making the rocket reusable. This can help reduce the overall cost associated with the missions.

The CEO has grand plans that surpass his goal of exploring the Red Planet. He says he wants to make use of the rockets to establish a base on the moon. He refers to this as Moon Base Alpha. Another goal of his plan is to use the Big Falcon Rocket to clean up the outer space. He hopes to do this by taking old unused satellites and other debris that floats in the space outside Earth.

As he continued his presentation, Musk spoke about using rockets right on Earth to cover large distances in extremely short time spans. This means one could go from New York to China’s capital in an astounding thirty nine minutes.

Of course, there are many other companies that have their eyes set on putting crews on Mars. NASA, Boeing and Lockheed have all revealed plans to send crew members to the Red Planet.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Critical DNS Flaw Exposes Windows Computers to Hacking

The security updates released by Microsoft Oct. 10 fix a critical vulnerability in the Windows DNS client that could allow attackers to compromise computers on local networks without user interaction.

The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2017-11779, affects all Windows versions starting with Windows 8 and Server 2012. It stems from the way the Windows DNS client library—DNSAPI.dll—handles responses from DNS servers; in particular, the NSEC3 record that’s part of the DNSSEC protocol.

Attackers can exploit the vulnerability if they are able to control or masquerade as the primary DNS resolver used by computers and can send malformed NSEC3 records to them. Successful exploitation can result in remote code execution in the context of the local system account, leading to a complete compromise.

primary DNS

“This means that if an attacker controls your DNS server (e.g., through a man-in-the-middle attack or a malicious coffee-shop hotspot), they can gain access to your system,” said Nick Freeman, a consultant with security firm Bishop Fox who found the vulnerability, in a blog post. “This doesn’t only affect web browsers—your computer makes DNS queries in the background all the time, and any query can be responded to in order to trigger this issue.”

A limiting factor for this vulnerability is that it cannot be exploited from a DNS server higher up in the resolution chain because recursive resolvers will drop the corrupted NSEC3 response before it reaches the computer. Therefore, the only way to exploit it is to control the primary DNS resolver used by the computer.

This can be done on an unprotected Wi-Fi network or through a compromised router, so it’s more likely to be exploited in a targeted attack. For example, an attacker could compromise the Wi-Fi network of a popular restaurant or coffee shop in a business district and hack the laptops of various employees who use the network and then wait for them to take their computers back to their corporate networks.

“New functionality always brings new vulnerabilities, and the introduction of DNSSEC to Windows was no exception,” Freeman said. “The last mile (between your computer and its DNS resolver) will remain a weak point in DNS, so consider the use of a Virtual Private network (VPN) or using your phone as a personal hotspot to reduce the likelihood of an attacker interfering with your DNS traffic.”

The Bishop Fox researchers posted a video with more details about the vulnerability’s impact.

Microsoft Fixes 28 Critical Flaws in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer

During this most recent Patch Tuesday, Microsoft fixed 62 vulnerabilities in Windows, Office, Internet Explorer and Edge. Thirty-three of these vulnerabilities can result in remote code execution and 28 of them are rated critical.

“Top priority for patching should go to a vulnerability in Microsoft Office, CVE-2017-11826, which Microsoft has ranked as ‘Important’ [and] is actively being exploited in the wild,” said Jimmy Graham, director of product management at Qualys.

As far as Windows is concerned, remote code execution flaws have been patched in NetBIOS, SMBv1, the Windows Shell, Windows Search and the Scripting Engine. Security bypasses have been fixed in the Device Guard code integrity protection mechanism and the integrity-level check in Windows Storage.

The company has also issued an advisory for a security issue in Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips made by Infineon that could result in weaker cryptographic keys. TPMs are used for important enterprise security features in Windows, such as BitLocker disk encryption and biometric authentication. Users should obtain TPM firmware updates from their computer vendors to address this flaw.

1 Million-Plus Internet Exposed Routers Affected by Dnsmasq Flaws

Security researchers have found more than 1 million SOHO routers and other networking devices that are affected by critical vulnerabilities patched recently in dnsmasq.

Last week, security researchers from Google announced they found and reported critical vulnerabilities in the dnsmasq software package, which is used on Linux, BSD and macOS systems to provide services such as DNS and DHCP for networks. The flaws were fixed in dnsmasq 2.78, released Oct. 2 and Linux distribution maintainers released updated packages.

However, there are many routers and other networking devices out there that use Linux-based firmware but are unlikely to receive patches in a timely manner. Moreover, even if firmware updates do become available, users rarely update their routers because it usually requires a manual process.

Security researchers from Trend Micro used the Censys.io and Shodan search engines to look for routers, cable modems and other networking devices that run the community-built OpenWRT, DD-WRT and Tomato firmware and to determine how many of them are running a vulnerable dnsmasq version. They identified more than 1.1 million devices that had dnsmasq running and had port 53 (DNS) opened to the internet. They were able to download Shodan data on a sample of 754,458 of those devices and determined that more than 99 percent of them were running a vulnerable dnsmasq version.

Fortunately, even though they are theoretically vulnerable, not all of these devices can be exploited directly because the vulnerabilities require special conditions such as IPv6 being enabled or the attacker being in control of an upstream DNS server. Some of these limitations can be solved by attackers by tricking users behind vulnerable routers to click on a URL under a domain they control—so they can serve a DNS response for it—or by exploiting a different vulnerability that allows changing the router’s DNS settings. However, such techniques don’t scale very well.

This research, however, shows the poor state of patching in routers at a time when attackers are actively compromising such devices to build botnets capable of launching crippling distributed denial-of-service attacks. It will only take a critical flaw in a widely used remotely accessible component for millions of routers to be at risk.


Hyatt Hotels hit with credit card breach in 11 Countries

Hyatt Hotels Corporation is warning customers that hackers gained access to payment card information at 41 hotels managed by the company in 11 countries. This is the second credit card breach suffered by the company in the past two years.

The new incident impacted cards used at the front desks of affected properties between March 18 and July 2 and was the result of malicious software being introduced “from a third party” into the hotels’ IT systems.

The company has published a list of affected hotels on its website. The hotels are located in Brazil, China, Colombia, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United States. The country with the largest number of affected hotels is China with 18, while the U.S. has only three, all of them in Hawaii.

It’s not clear how the attackers managed to introduce the malware into these hotels’ systems and why other Hyatt properties weren’t affected. A previous data breach announced by Hyatt in late 2015 impacted cards used at 250 properties from 50 countries.

“I want to assure you that there is no indication that information beyond that gained from payment cards – cardholder name, card number, expiration date and internal verification code – was involved, and as a result of implemented measures designed to prevent this from happening in the future, guests can feel confident using payment cards at Hyatt hotels worldwide,” Chuck Floyd, global president of operations at Hyatt, said in a statement.

Point-of-sale memory-scraping malware continues to be one of the primary methods used by hackers to steal payment card data from hotels, restaurants, retailers and other merchants. However, there are also more advanced threats that can compromise whole networks and back-end systems.

Researchers from Morphisec recently documented new attacks from a sophisticated attack group known as FIN7 that uses fileless malware and other advanced technique designed to bypass traditional detection. Earlier this year the group attacked restaurants from the U.S.

“We continue to see threat actors specifically targeting hotels and accessible retail outlets where credit card transactions are both routine and frequent,” said Christian Lees, chief information security officer at InfoArmor. “PII and credit card data continue to be solicited and monetized in underground communities as a simple and viable way to fund further nefarious activity. As long as there is a market demand for this data, there will be those who will work to obtain it and profit from that activity.”

Android Ransomware Changes Device Lock PINs

A new ransomware threat for Android devices known as DoubleLocker not only encrypts user data on devices but also changes the device PIN to lock users out.

According to researchers from ESET, DoubleLocker is based on a banking trojan that abuses the Android accessibility service functionality. It is distributed from compromised websites as a fake Flash Player application and once installed it requests activation as an accessibility service. If this is granted, the malware sets itself as an administrator and as a Home application — a launcher.

The malware then locks the phone when the user hits the home button and changes the PIN to a random value that is not stored anywhere and is not sent to the attackers. However, the attackers do have the ability to remotely change the PIN to a known value after payment.

DoubleLocker also encrypts the files in the phone’s storage using strong uncrackable encryption. The victims are warned that they need to pay 0.0130 BTC (around $55) within 24 hours, but the files are not deleted after this period. The only way to rid the device of the DoubleLocker ransomware is to reset the device to its factory settings.

“Given its banking malware roots, DoubleLocker may well be turned into what could be called ransom-bankers,” said Lukáš Štefanko, a malware researcher at ESET. “Two-stage malware that first tries to wipe your bank or PayPal account and subsequently locks your device and data to request a ransom. Speculation aside, we spotted a test version of such a ransom-banker in the wild as long ago as May 2017.”

After Equifax, TransUnion Website Also Directs Users to Malicious Applications

Equifax took one of its consumer websites down yesterday after reports that it was serving adware to users. Researchers from Malwarebytes have now found that a website operated by another credit monitoring agency, TransUnion, was also directing users to malicious applications.

It seems the TransUnion-operated website, which served users in Central America, was using the same third-party web analytics script that redirected users of the Equifax website to adware. Researchers suspect that one of the domains the script was loading resources from has been compromised.

This is a classic malvertizing attack where a legitimate, trusted service provider is compromised and the infection then makes it to customers’ websites. This usually happens through advertising networks, but as shown in these cases, it can also happen through web analytics providers and other third-party scripts.

Aston Martin is building a $4 million submarine

Maybe it is Aston Martin"s continued ties with the fictional spy James Bond, but the company has just announced plans to develop its own submarine. It is a project that is being called Neptune, named after the Roman God of the Sea.

Aston Martin is partnering up

Aston Martin, one of the last completely independent vehicle makers, is more popular for their pricey luxury and sports car. Now they are now partnering up with a company that also specializes in luxury auto, albeit submersibles. Triton Submarines is a company that focuses on building multi million dollar submarines for the rich. This is not the automaker’s first foray into aquatic machines. In the year of 2016, they took the covers of a powerboat and had two of them delivered to customers.

What does this mean for Aston Martin?

A statement from Aston Martin promises that this will not dilute the company or its products. The spokesperson simply insists that they want to regenerate their product line. Moreover, a total of twelve machines are to be sold. This it to keep them exclusive and they will cost $4 million. Over the recent past, the company has been looking into starting many side ventures other than making luxury cars. Again, in 2016, it opened up a venture called the Aston Martin Consulting. As the name implies, they offer consulting services and advice to customers in certain industries. These industries include designing, engineering as well as the manufacturing industry. They also collaborated with G&G Business Developments to come up with Aston Martin Residences which was a real estate project.

Why is Aston Martin getting into the submarine field

The common assumption is that the submarine industry is an industry with no potential and market. However, personal submarines are quickly turning into a necessity for the rich 1% who are getting bored of superyachts.

At the moment there is not a lot of information regarding the specifications of the submarine. The announcement gave the public concept pictures. The pictures show a three person submarine with wide glass roofs. This can give better views of the world beneath the waters. The images also indicated that this aquatic machine would be based on the “Low Profile three-person platform,” of Triton. This type of machine is supposed to carry up to three people with a great amount of attention given to comfort. Aston Martin says they will start delivering the subs to customers by the end of 2018.

World View successfully launches near space balloon from its new HQ

World View Enterprises launched their first near space balloon today. This happened at Spaceport Tucson, which is located in Arizona, which will be the lift off base for satellite like “Stratollite” missions. Over time, the company hopes to start flights for tourists too. The balloon will reach all the way to the stratosphere. Spaceport Tucson is the first facility of its kind. It was built with the sole purpose of sending flights and balloons up to the stratosphere.

Info on the near space balloon 

World View Enterprises currently handles the entire Spaceport Tucson facility. They do this on behalf of Arizona’s Pima County who built the headquarters, the producing facilities as well as a round launching area which has a diameter of 215 meters. This was done in a deal worth over fifteen million US Dollars and was signed back in 2016. This deal was stuck in the midst of a lot of legal issues that lasted for more than a year. The Headquarters was declared early this year in the month of February. However the small start up has spent the last few months prepping the compound for day to day operations which climaxed at the take off of its balloon.

World View co-founder and CEO Jane Poynter says that they have obtained the Certificate of Authorization from the Federal Aviation Department which paved the way and enabled today’s debut test to be carried out.

The four year old start up is looking to start a new market in the business of commercial space. Its innovative super high altitude balloon can keep itself in the up most section of our planet’s atmosphere. From there it can be used for scientific uses, to observe places and things and so on. The balloons are said to rise up to a height of thirty thousand five hundred meters or even more. For a comparison, this is almost three times more than the height that a typical airline flies at.

The best Chromebooks of 2017

Chromebooks are a refreshing take for someone looking for an alternative to Windows and Mac laptops. Very different from the conventional laptops, Chromebooks are made to work on the cloud with not much interaction done offline. This makes it ideal for someone who spends a lot of time online and specifically on the Google eco system. Here we take a look at the best offerings.

Asus Chromebook Flip

Before this laptop from Asus, consumers were hard pressed to find an inexpensive Chromebook that Intel’s Core processors and 1080 p screens. Other rare features were the touchscreen, a backlit keyboard and USB Type C cables; all of which Asus brought in a complete package; the Asus Chromebook Flip. It offers an LED 12.5 inch display and up to 4 GB of RAM. The tablet mode is also extremely elegant to use.

asus chromebook

Samsung Chromebook Pro

The Samsung Chromebook Pro is one of the first Chromebooks to allow Android apps to be used on its Chrome OS, which effectively brings the best of two worlds. This Chromebook also has a feature that allows it to stand out from the crowd; it is the first to have an in built stylus that makes it much better than even most tablets. It has a 12.3 inch QHD screen and the ability to fold 360 degrees. On the downside, the keyboard tends to feel a bit cramped and the speakers are horribly poor.

Samsung Chromebook Pro

Dell Chromebook 11

If you are looking for value for money, then Dell’s Chromebook 11 is just the device you need. It has a strong 180 degree hinge and a durable build along with a kick ass keyboard that is a thrill to type on. All of these make the Dell Chromebook 11 great for school goers and work oriented people. It has a 16 GB SSD for storage and comes with either 2 GB or 3 GB of RAM. With solid stereo speakers, this rugged Chromebook can handle a couple of dings too.

Dell Chromebook

Acer Chromebook 15

This Chromebook is one of the few Chromebooks to have a 15.6 inch screen. Another feature that is rare on Chromebooks is its optional i5 processor. While that much power is overkill, it is still a handy feature to haveAcer Chromebook on a device. The device is quite a bit on the heavy side due to its 15.6 inch display which is Full HD by the way. The Acer Chromebook 15 is known for its long battery life and quick processing speeds. One common complaint about the device is that the Chromebook’s keyboard is quite awkward to type on.


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Facebook seriously needs its own Bitmoji

Your Facebook profile used to be the online version of “you”. But over the past year, Bitmoji has usurped Facebook to become the preferred way to share your identity over the web.

The Facebook profile assembles a collection of text and real-world photos into a fixed set of poses, making it more of a snapshot of the offline you ported into the digital realm rather than a vision of you purposefully designed for the Internet. It worked well enough for the desktop era when we asynchronously stalked each other’s online representations and had the time and screen space to consume a lot of information.

But the modern mobile era is more about communication than representation. We need succinct and flexible versions of our identity for rapid-fire messaging and visual storytelling. You can’t cram your whole Facebook profile into a video just to tell someone what you’re up to, but inserting just a profile pic feels generic and far from vivid. Facebook’s missing something.

Bitmoji — Identity For Visual Communication On Mobile

Bitmoji let you communicate not just who you are, but what you’re doing and how you’re feeling in a single instantly recognizable image. With Bitmoji, you custom-design a cartoony avatar to look like your ideal self, and are then offered near-infinite poses of that avatar in any situation you could imagine, from blowing a kiss to flying a jetpack. You can then use these both within text messaging as well as photos or videos.

At first, way back in 2008, Bitmoji seemed like a joke. It was just a way to let you star in Bitstrips — little comic strips you could storyboard yourself. But most people didn’t need or have the time to make such involved content. Yet Bitstrips co-founder and CEO Jacob ‘BA’ Blackstock saw the potential early, telling AdWeek “It’s like you’re the medium.”

snapchat-buys-bitstripsThe breakthrough would come six years later when Bitstrips spun off a separate Bitmoji app that let you turn your avatar into stickers for use in messaging. They were personalized emoji. Still, by then social media had started to shift to visual communication via Snapchat Stories.

In one of Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s smartest moves, the company paid just $64.2 million to acquire Bitstrips, and quickly integrated Bitmoji directly into Snapchat. Suddenly you could overlay your avatar onto your photos and videos, projecting your feelings and actions into social media. Regardless of whether you were camera shy, disheveled, or just couldn’t get the perfect photo of yourself, you could still communicate visually with your identity.

And for the 14 months since then, Bitmoji has hovered in the top 10 iOS App Store charts, often claiming #1 even above its parent company Snap or Facebook’s family of apps.

Facebook’s Avatars, Trapped In VR

Despite Facebook’s willingness to clone Snapchat with Instagram Stories…and Facebook Stories…and Messenger Day and WhatsApp Status, it still has no rival to Bitmoji. That’s surprising considering communicating your real identity online is what allowed Facebook to vanquish Myspace and become a ubiquitous utility. It’s such an important concept, you’d think Facebook would fight harder to protect its dominance.

Facebook Avatars

That’s not to say the company hasn’t been experimenting. The problem is it’s all been in VR.

Facebook’s Oculus division has developed a customizable avatar system. While there’s plenty of flexibility in how you choose your avatar’s face, hair, and clothes, they always come out looking like an 80’s sci-fi movie. These Tron-style avatars are fine for playing around in Oculus Rooms and other VR apps, but don’t feel particularly human or familiar. That limits their potential for communicating outside of VR or conveying realistic emotion.

Oculus avatars look too sci-fi for every day use

Meanwhile, over the past few years Facebook has been gradually improving its own avatar system for Facebook Spaces, its VR hangout spot where you can chat with friends, visit 360 photo locations, and play basic games.

After some Minecraft-esque pixelated earlier attempts, in April 2016, Facebook revealed avatars drawn inside VR. It also told us it was testing using an Occipital Structure sensor to 3D model your head. By October, it was showing off much more life-like avatars with a “VR emoji” system that let you select “Angry” to make your avatar shake its fist, while “Joy” triggers a celebratory dance.

The evolution of Facebook’s VR avatars

But in April 2017, the company previewed Facebook Spaces with avatars constructed by scanning your Facebook profile photos and tagged photos to create a facsimile of your real face.

First Facebook lets you choose which of your photos you want as the basis of your avatar, and creates its best guess at what you look like in VR from there. Then you stand in front of a VR mirror to customize your face, hair, clothing and more (or start from scratch if you don’t have a good photo to use). Facebook tells me the goal was to make it so hanging out in VR with friends is more like hanging out in person. Since then, Facebook’s added more hair options, lipstick colors, and t-shirt decals.

Customizing your Facebook Spaces avatar standing in front of a VR mirror

Yet you still can’t use the avatar you create anywhere else. And that seems crazy given Bitmoji’s success. Facebook’s old school 2D social network has a whole augmented reality camera platform, but no customizable avatars. Messenger has computer-generated photo filters based on the text you type, and Instagram has seasonal stickers and props you can paste atop your Stories.

But there’s still no substitute for Bitmoji. Whether Facebook builds a competitor itself or buys one like Gabsee’s 3D personalized ‘hologram’ avatars, it needs to do something. Maybe we’ll see its next move at tomorrow Oculus Connect conference.

Sure, at its core, Facebook wants you to be the real you. That’s how it drives trust and relevancy. You might be able to instantly recognize the Bitmoji of a close pal, but what about someone new you just met who sends you a friend request? Would you be as comfortable meeting someone on Facebook Marketplace and going to their apartment to buy their couch if their profile pic was an avatar instead of a photo? And will you be able to identify distant acquaintances at a glance in the News Feed based on a cartoon version of their face?


Perhaps not. But Facebook can’t let the ubiquity and utility of its core social network block innovation in its mobile communication apps. With Zuckerberg’s crew recently getting a handle on AR, Bitmoji is the last massively popular feature that separates Facebook from Snapchat, the bastion of teen cool.

And that’s not because Bitmoji are a silly toy or just the next step in the evolution of emoji. The Internet isn’t merely for sharing what happens in the real world. It’s a place where we can dream and aspire. Personalized avatars let our identity scale alongside our imagination. Facebook can’t let you communicate “you” anymore without them.

Monday, 9 October 2017

LG plans to tackle the Note 8 with Australian V30 Plus release

While the regular LG V30 ended up passing us by Down Under, the LG V30 Plus, a much better version of the same phone, has now been confirmed for an Australian release in early November 2017.

Among the various improvements that LG V30 Plus can boast over the regular version are the inclusion of Quad DAC audio features and QuadPlay earbuds, as well as a larger storage capacity of 128GB, twice that of the 64GB capacity that came with the V30.

It’s got a 6-inch, 2:1 HDR/Dolby Vision-ready display, a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 3,300mAh fast-charging battery and is IP68-certified against water and dust. It’s also got a dual camera (13MP + 16MP) setup on its rear and a 5MP snapper on the front.

Set for release early next month, the LG V30 Plus will be available from JB Hi-Fi for $1,199, putting the price of LG’s premium flagship handset well below its flagship rivals, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 ($1,499) and the Google Pixel 2 XL ($1,549) in Australia.

10 WhatsApp tricks you should know about

WhatsApp has become an integral part of of our lives and has completely replaced the good ol’ text message. There’s hardly anyone we know who isn’t using the instant messaging app.

However, there are a lot of things that you can do on WhatsApp, apart from sending and receiving messages, photos and other media files.

Here is a list of 10 things that will make enhance the functionality of using WhatsApp:

Pin your chats

Pin your chats

There are times when you want your most important chats on the top of your conversation list. Scrolling down through scores of messages to find that chat can be tedious. Not anymore. In a recent update, WhatsApp added this function.

To pin a contact to the top of the list, you have to long press on the chat from that person and then press the ‘pin icon’ that appears right next to delete, mute and archive icons on the top of the page. As of now, only three contacts can be pinned to place them on top of the conversation list.

Editing images

Editing images

When we say that you can edit images on WhatsApp before sending them, we are not talking about Snapchat filters. What you can do here is doodle on pictures, and add text and emoticons on them before sending.

Select attach > Go to gallery > Select the image you wish to share. Once you do this, the image will open in WhatsApp’s photo editor. On top right, you’ll see options of adding text, emoticons and doodle. You can resize and change colours of all three once you add them to your image.

Format text

Format text

There’s a good chance you’re already aware of this feature but have never used it. Somehow, changing formats of text on WhatsApp never really caught on. We’ll tell you again how to format text on WhatsApp as it is a handy feature to use.

You can bold text on WhatsApp by starting it and following it with an asterisk ‘*’. Similarly, for italics, make sure the text is preceded and followed by an underscore sign ‘_’. You can also make your text appear struck off with Strikethrough. For that precede and follow it with tilde ‘~’.

Chat in different languages

Chat in different languages

English isn’t the only language in which you can communicate on WhatsApp. You would be glad to know that WhatsApp supports a number of Indian regional languages.

If you ever want to type in a different language, open WhatsApp > Go to Settings > Select Chats > Click on App Language. You can then pick the language you wish to type in.

Add conversation shortcuts

Add conversation shortcuts

We all have a favourite friend with we are constantly yapping on WhatsApp. Rather than opening WhatsApp and going to their chat each time you want to talk to them, you can add a conversation shortcut on your home screen. Just long press on the conversation, click on three dot on top of the page and click ‘Add chat shortcut".

Create GIFs

Create GIFs

WhatsApp has been supporting GIFS for a while now. But did you know that you can even create GIFS within WhatsApp and send it to your friends? However, we should point out that you can only create GIFS using videos that are saved on your smartphone.

Open the WhatsApp chat of the contact whom you want to send the GIF to. Click on the attach icon > Select Gallery > Go to videos. Select the video you wish to create in a GIF from. As soon as you do this, it’ll open up in the video editing section of WhatsApp. Here, you have to adjust the length of the video to 6 seconds or less, as longer GIFS are not supported by WhatsApp.

Once the video length is less than 6 seconds, the option of converting it to a GIF will appear as a slider on top right. Now all you need to do is take the slider towards GIF, and you’re set.

Customize notifications

Customize notifications

Did you know WhatsApp can send you customized notifications for certain contacts? It’s very simple to enable them. Open the contact you wish to customize notifications for, click on the top bar, and select ‘Custom Notifications".

Find out when your message has been read

Find out when your message has been read

With the option of turning read receipts and last seen off, it is hard to know if someone hasn’t read your message or they are simply ignoring you. WhatsApp, however, has a solution for this. Just long press on the message you have sent and then select information icon ‘i’ on the top bar.

You’ll get to know if your message has been read or not. However, you can only know the exact time of your message being read if the person does not have read receipts and last seen off.

Turn off last seen

Turn off last seen

Do you feel that people getting to know when you last opened your WhatsApp is intrusive? You’ll be happy to know that WhatsApp lets you change that. Just go to Settings > Select Account > Click on Privacy > Choose Last Seen and then select the most suitable option.

Switch off media auto-download

Switch off media auto-download

Almost on a daily basis you perhaps receive a multitude of photos and videos on WhatsApp -- half of them are actually not needed. If you are a part of any pesky Groups on WhatsApp, chances are you’ll be getting a lot of “Good Morning, have a nice day” type of pictures and videos on a regular basis. You can manage what gets downloaded automatically and what doesn’t. Go to Settings > Select Data usage and choose the most appropriate options.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The Pixel 2 is borrowing one of the best features from iOS 11

As the dust settles on Google’s mammoth hardware event from Wednesday, we’re slowly learning more details about the Pixel 2 phones that are heading our way when they go on sale and start shipping in the next few weeks – and one new revelation matches something we’ve already seen in iOS 11.

The upcoming feature in question will automatically put your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL phone into a Do Not Disturb mode while you’re driving, muting notifications and letting you get on with the important job of keeping your eyes on the road.

As spotted by Android Police, Google has released a new app called Pixel Ambient Services, which takes care of the automatic driving detection and gives you the option of having Do Not Disturb activate without any input from you once your phone recognizes that you’ve started to hit the road.

It’s oh so quiet

One potential problem – which affects iOS too – is that your phone won’t be able to tell if you are actually driving or if you’re sat in the passenger seat trying to queue up some tunes for the long journey ahead. At least the feature is optional so you can disable it if it’s causing too many problems.

Do Not Disturb has been around in stock Android for several years now, letting you set ‘quiet times’ when notifications still appear on your phone but won’t cause any kind of vibration or audible alarm.

It looks like the new feature will see if your phone is connected to a Bluetooth car stereo, just like the equivalent option in iOS 11. It’s another of those little tweaks – like the always-on music detection on the lock screen – that might tempt you to invest in a Pixel 2 rather than another Android phone.



Monday, 2 October 2017

Apple Open Sources macOS and iOS Kernel for ARM Processors

Apple has always shared the kernel of macOS after each major release. This kernel also runs on iOS devices as both macOS and iOS are built on the same foundation.

This year, Apple also shared the most recent version of the kernel on GitHub. And you can also find ARM versions of the kernel for the first time.

But first, it’s time for some computer history. The first version of macOS (originally named Mac OS X) came out in 2001. It was built on top of NeXTSTEP, an operating system developed by NeXT. Steve Jobs founded NeXT in 1985 and sold the company back to Apple in 1997. And Apple decided to use NeXTSTEP as the foundation for Mac OS X.

NeXTSTEP itself is derived from open-source project BSD. That’s why the Mac you might be currently using relies heavily on open-source technologies. And that’s also why Apple releases a tiny, tiny portion of macOS every year. You can’t compile it and run your own version of macOS, but other kernel developers probably care about the source code of this kernel.

macOS and iOS Kernel

What about iOS? When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone in 2007, he said that the operating system of the iPhone is a macOS fork. “Today, we’re going to show you a software breakthrough. Software that is at least 5 years ahead on what’s on any other phone.

Now how did we do this? Well, we started with a strong foundation — iPhone runs OS X,” Jobs said. “Why would we want such a sophisticated operating system on a mobile device? Because it’s got everything we need.”

Later apple called this operating system iPhone OS, and then iOS. It’s not an exact copy as there are no floating windows on iOS. But iOS and macOS use the same Unix-based core named Darwin as well as many frameworks. The Apple Watch and the Apple TV also run variants of iOS that also rely on Darwin.

So the fact that you can now download ARM-optimized source code of Apple’s kernel doesn’t mean much. Maybe Apple wants to share the kernel of the iPhone to get feedback from the open-source community.

Maybe it means that Apple is working on a version of macOS that runs on ARM chips. Maybe it was an accident. Maybe Apple just wanted to see the reaction on Twitter.


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Facebook tests facial recognition for account recovery

Facebook has its own version of Apple’s Face ID. If you get locked out of your Facebook account, the company is testing a way to regain access by using your face to verify your identity.

That could be especially useful if you’re somewhere that you can’t receive two-factor authentication SMS, like on a plane or while traveling abroad, or if you lose access to your email account.

Facebook tests facial recognition for account recovery

Social media researcher Devesh Logendran (a pseudonym) sent a screenshot of the feature to TNW’s Matt Navarra. We asked Facebook about it and got this confirmation:

Facebook has its own version of Apple Face ID

“We are testing a new feature for people who want to quickly and easily verify account ownership during the account recovery process. This optional feature is available only on devices you’ve already used to log in. It is another step, alongside two-factor authentication via SMS, that were taking to make sure account owners can confirm their identity.”

If the feature proves reliably helpful to users and isn’t fooled by hackers, Facebook could potentially roll it out to more people.

Over the years Facebook has tried a number of novel ways to help you get back into a locked account. In some cases it asks you to identify photos of your friends to prove you’re you. Or it’s tried allowing you to designate several “trusted friends” who receive a code that you can ask them for to unlock your account.

While Facebook has experienced some backlash to facial recognition for photo tag suggestions in the past, this feature would only use the technology to privately help you out.

Therefore it shouldn’t engender as big of privacy concerns, though obviously anything related to biometric data can give people pause. But if it means you can get back to your messages and News Feed, or repair damage done by a hacker, many people are likely to be comfortable to use their face to Facebook.


LG V30 Plus is an incredibly good deal

It was widely believed that the plus-sized LG V30 Plus would make an appearance at IFA 2017, but alas, that didn’t happen.

Interestingly enough, that model has popped up today, but as a Sprint exclusive in the United States. The language used in the carrier’s press release states that it will be the sole provider of the phone “at launch”, which like the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, means it will likely make its way to more carriers (and more regions) eventually.

Carrier exclusivity deals aside, this is a heck of a bargain for what is building up to be one of 2017’s best flagships. Sprint is taking full advantage of the spotlight by offering a buy-one-get-one for the V30 Plus, with both phones costing just $38 per month combined. That works out to roughly $900 for two phones, which is a staggeringly good deal considering that other carriers, like T-Mobile, are offering a single V30 (non-Plus) for $30 per month, or about $800 total after a two-year contract.

Not just that, Sprint is also offering a free Google Daydream View headset and a content starter pack along with purchase. The deal just gets better and better.

Great deal, confusing phone

Digging into what makes the V30 Plus unique, it isn’t a “plus” in the same sense as, say, the iPhone 8 Plus. It’s actually no bigger than the standard LG V30, which also features a six-inch AMOLED display.

What is different is the internal storage, which is doubled to 128GB, as well as the fact that LG is tossing in a set of its LG Quad Play wired headphones that are supposedly suited to take advantage of the Quad DAC built into the phone.

As the release of the LG V30 has crept closer with few details shared until recently, the announcement of an entirely separate model is somewhat confusing. This is compounded further by the fact that the Plus is not only the exact same size as the core V30, but also that the doubled storage doesn’t carry much weight as a selling point since both versions have a microSD slot.

I suppose the Plus-specific earbuds are a solid toss-in, assuming these are as good as the Bang & Olufsen earbuds that LG included with last year’s LG V20. But what does this mean for what’s inside of the standard V30’s box? We haven’t received a final unit yet, so we’re unsure of what buyers are in for when they buy in.

The LG V30 Plus comes after Sprint nabbed exclusive rights to sell the Essential Phone in its stores. Given that Sprint is the underdog of US wireless carriers, it’s definitely an impressive feat to nab not one, but two big hardware exclusives.

15 essential iPhone 8 tips and tricks

Get the most out of your new Apple-branded handset

It’s a shame the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus didn’t come with all new designs, because while they look like a slightly different iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus there are some massive improvements under the hood: ridiculously fast processors, even better cameras and some brilliant new features.

And here we present 19 ways to make your iPhone 8 / 8 Plus experience even better through a selection of different tips, tricks and handy alternatives to the things you do every day with your handset - use these to become a power user of your new Apple phone.

1. Squeeze the keyboard

Squeeze the keyboard

The iPhone 8 is big, and the 8 Plus bigger still. If you’re struggling to type one-handed, press and hold the emoji button on the keyboard and you’ll see three keyboard icons: a left-hand side keyboard, the current standard keyboard and a right-hand side keyboard. Choose either left or right to squish the keyboard to that side for easier typing.

2. Customize Control Center

Customize Control Center

The redesigned Control Center is much handier than before, and you can make it handier still by changing its contents in Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. You’ll find some interesting options in there, such as the option to add screen recording or control your Apple TV.

3. Drag and drop

Drag and drop

iPhones haven’t yet got the power to drag and drop between apps, but you can now drag and drop inside Apple’s apps – so you can drag an attachment in Mail into a new message, drag text from one Note to another and so on. In Notes, for example, you work in landscape mode and drag an image or text selection out and over the note you want to drop it into; after a second that note opens and you can move your block of text or image to its desired location. In the Files app you can drag items over folders to move them.

4. Scan QR codes

Scan QR codes

Apple is very, very late to the QR code party, but you can now scan QR codes from within the Camera app. It’ll automatically recognize that it’s looking at a QR code and will then enable you to open the link in Safari, connect to the Wi-Fi network or do anything else the code is designed to do.

5. Make messages messier, or just mute them

Make messages messier, or just mute them

There are new effects in Messages: to see them, hold down the Send icon and tap Screen. You can mute conversations in Messages now too: swipe left on a conversation and tap Hide Alerts.

6. Loop your Live Photos

Loop your Live Photos

Live Photos are a lot of fun, and they’re even more fun on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus: swipe the photo up to see the effects options, which enable you to loop or bounce your Live Photo, or apply a long-exposure effect.

7. Record at any resolution

Record at any resolution

The camera in the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus shoots 4K at 30 frames per second by default, but you can adjust that in Settings > Camera > Record Video to boost the speed to 60fps, drop it to 24fps or use a lower resolution such as 1080p or 720p HD. Naturally, the higher the resolution and frame rate the more space you’ll need to store your video.

8. Charge without cables

Charge without cables

You"ve probably seen that both the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus support the Qi charging standard, so they’ll work with any Qi-compatible pad, including the pads and charging-enabled furniture IKEA sells.

You can also buy an Apple-approved charging pad from Mophie or Belkin for $59.95 / £54.95 / AU$99.95, with Apple’s own AirPower pad coming later this year. It’s not as fast as charging with a cable, but it’s a lot more convenient and Apple reckons it"s not far off in terms of speed.

9. Change lighting in Portrait mode

Change lighting in Portrait mode

This one’s Plus-only, and it’s one of the headline features of the phone. Portrait mode has new lighting options that enable you to choose from different studio lighting and stage lighting effects, and the results are instant – there’s some serious processing going on to make the magic happen so quickly, and the original data is saved so you can change your mind later.

10. Discover the power of Slow Sync

Discover the power of Slow Sync

Photo pros will know about slow sync flash already, because it’s something many cameras can do – it’s a way of getting more balanced shots when using flash in low light by keeping the shutter open for longer.

In a normal flash photo the subject is brightly lit and the background dark, but with slow sync it’s much closer to what you see with your eyes. You don’t need to do anything to enable this option – it’s just part of the camera.

11. Get into AR

Get into AR

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus cameras have been designed for augmented reality (AR) apps thanks to the high power of the A11 Bionic chip. Yes, other phones in the range can do the same, but you"ll get the best experience on the latest handsets.

It’s a lot of fun, and an exciting glimpse of the future, whether you"re looking at IKEA furniture overlaid on your living room or Thomas & Friends Minis on the coffee table.

12. Change the photo format

Change the photo format

iOS 11 introduced a new, much more efficient file format for photos called HEIF, and it"s the default format. However, if you want to store photos in the less efficient but more widely supported JPEG format, you can change the default in Settings > Camera > Formats.

You can do the same with video, changing from HEVC to H.264 as the default. Don’t worry about doing this if you just want to share the odd photo – when you share, iOS automatically converts from the high-efficiency format to JPEG or H.264.

13. Share your storage

Share your storage

This is a big one for families: you can now share your iCloud space with family members – so, for example, we’ve got a 2TB plan that we share with the kids.

You can enable this in Settings > iCloud > Manage Storage. Don’t worry, your secret iCloud files aren’t shared, just your storage space.

14. Don’t crash the car

Don’t crash the car

Using your phone while driving is, of course, stupid and dangerous, but if you’re not sure that you can avoid temptation then enable Do Not Disturb While Driving in Settings > Do Not Disturb.

The name tells you what it does, but not how clever it is: your iPhone can tell how fast you’re moving or whether you’re connected to an in-car Bluetooth system, and turn the feature on automatically.

It won’t block phone calls, and people can still get hold of you in an emergency. However, be warned: it"ll also do the same on a train, which can be annoying on the commute to work and you"re sat wondering why nobody loves you.

15. Organize your files

Organize your files