Friday, May 29, 2020

The best laptops of 2020 in Australia: our picks of the top laptops on sale now

If you're looking at getting yourself a new laptop but don't really know where to start, you're in luck – that's the entire point of this very page!

Here at TechRadar, we get to review the full breadth and width of currently-available laptops, so we're well and truly across what's worth the dosh and what's not.

Whether it's Apple's freshest MacBook Pro, the latest winner in the Dell XPS range, or one of Hp's sleek Spectres, we've painstakingly compared and contrasted each one in order to give you a rundown on the laptop with the best value.

We've taken into account ultrabooks, gaming laptops, 2-in-1s, and every other shape and size that laptops come in these days – so don't worry if you're in it for work or play, we've got you covered.

For those that aren't sure what type of laptop would suit their needs best, scroll down to the foot of the page to find a guide comparing the different types.

Best laptops in Australia 2020 at a glance

  1. Dell XPS 13 (2020)
  2. Huawei MateBook 13
  3. HP Spectre x360 (2020)
  4. Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED
  5. Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
  6. MSI GS65 Stealth
  7. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
  8. Apple MacBook Air (2020)
  9. Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
  10. Dell G5 15 5590 Gaming
  11. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
  12. Alienware Area-51m

The best laptops of 2020:

The Dell XPS 13 has maintained pole position in our best laptops list for years, and the 2020 again earns its well-deserved crown. It keeps everything we've come to love from Dell's flagship 13-incher, from the gorgeous and light design, to the powerful modern components that power it. The Dell XPS 13 now rocks 10th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, which means the Dell XPS 13 (2020) is a brilliant performer, while remaining thin and light. What’s more, there’s a wide range of customisation options, so you can really make the Dell XPS 13 the best laptop for your needs. The 2020 model refines the already-brilliant design of the XPS 13, but it does come at a high cost. While this is easily one of the best laptops in the world right now, it's also one of the most expensive as well.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Our pick for the pinnacle of laptops you can buy in Australia for 2019 would be the Huawei MateBook 13, were it not for the ongoing issues the company faces. Like the MateBook X Pro before it, the MateBook 13 packs some of the latest components and tech into a nifty lightweight package at an affordable price. It's this deft balance that would give it the slight edge over the reigning champ, the Dell XPS 13, if it weren't for the unknown future of support for the device. 

Read the full review: Huawei MateBook 13

The HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 laptop has had a big refresh for 2020, with 10th-generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Plus graphics, along with the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis. We're huge fans of the power, build quality and design of this laptop, and if it weren't so expensive for Australians comparatively, then it'd likely be in the number one slot. 

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2020)

While the Aero 15 range from Gigabyte is aimed at designers, it makes for the best value gaming laptop on the Australian market right now due to its powerful internals, brilliant display, and sleek, stylish chassis. This year's model comes packing a new 15-inch 4K HDR screen ideal as a high-resolution on-the-go gaming monitor, media machine, or its intended design-centric use. Considering it's also packing the latest Nvidia RTX series GPUs and 9th-gen Intel Core CPUs.


Read the full review: Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED

While we are sad that the 15-inch MacBook Pro is no more, we’ve welcomed the MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) with open arms. As thin, light and sleek as ever, you wouldn’t think this was a 16-inch behemoth. Yet, you’re getting that extra real estate on that stunning display, as well as the latest and greatest components behind it. This is, without a doubt, the best MacBook for content creators, designers and other creative professionals. With amazing (and loud) speakers and a much, much better keyboard to boot.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)

The new MSI GS65 Stealth has knocked our previous choice of the best gaming laptop, Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, off this list, thanks to its excellent array of cutting edge components, which includes an 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. It's also more reasonably priced than the Zephyrus GX501, and its subtle design means that it can double as a work or study laptop without raising any eyebrows. If you're looking for a more affordable gaming laptop, however, check out the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming below.

Read the full review: MSI GS65 Stealth 

With the third version of the Surface Laptop 3, Microsoft has made its best laptop yet. While it's not a huge leap over its predecessor, the Surface Laptop 3 does improve on almost every aspect. 

Best of all, with the 15-inch version you now get a choice of either Intel or AMD hardware. Previously, only Intel tech was included. Elsewhere, the Surface Laptop 3 continues the Surface Laptop's reputation for being a stunningly designed laptop. 

These are some of the most desirable laptops in the world that don't have a logo of an apple on them, with a new aluminum body that gives it a premium feel, while protecting it from knocks and drops. There are still a few niggles, like the continued lack of ports, but in general this is one of the best laptops in the world right now.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3

MacBook Air 2020


Apple has once again refreshed and improved the MacBook Air, and the 2020 model represents the biggest upgrade we've seen in quite a while, easily making it one of the best laptops in the world, and certainly the best affordable MacBook ever made. Apple has now included the latest 10th generation Intel processors, and for the first time you're able to get a MacBook AIr with a quad-core CPU, which makes a big difference when it comes to perfomance.

You also get more storage as well, with Apple doubling the amount the base model comes with to 256GB. While it's can't compete with the raw power of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (above), this is by far the best MacBook Air the company has ever made. Best of all, Apple has once again lowered the entry price, so you're getting a more powerful laptop for cheaper. What's not to like about that?

Read the full review: MacBook Air (2020)

Last year’s Dell XPS 15 was already one of the best laptops you could buy, but now that Dell has taken the beautiful redesign of the Dell XPS 13 and applied it here – while also making it a convertible. Well, it’s amazing. Not only do you get one of the most aesthetically pleasing 15-inch laptops on the market, but it also packs one of those new Intel  Kaby Lake G-series CPUs featuring ‘discrete-class’ Radeon graphics. This means that this laptop packs serious power – even if it can get a little loud.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 

While the Alienware Area-51m (featured earlier in this best laptops list) is the best gaming laptop for people with a lot of money to spare, if you're on a tighter budget, then the Dell G5 15 5590 gaming laptop is a fantastic choice. Dell’s 15-inch G5 doesn't have the highest end specs, but it will see you through 1080p gaming and last you up to 10 hours of battery life as well – which is pretty remarkable for a gaming laptop. It also features a stylish design and great build quality, and Dell also allows you to configure the Dell G5 15 5590 to better suit your budget and needs.

Read the full review: Dell 5 15 5590

With the Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch), Microsoft has crafted one of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops in the world. The Surface Book 2 has some powerful enough components to handle most day-to-day tasks, and even some light gaming and video editing if you go for a model with a dedicated graphics card. Brilliant build quality and excellent battery life makes this a wonderful device for using as either a laptop, or as a powerful Windows 10 tablet. It also comes in a 15-inch version, which is more powerful and with a larger screen. If you're after a more affordable 2-in-1 device, then the Acer Switch 3, below, is well worth checking out.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)

The Alienware Area-51m is a strong contender for the best gaming laptop of 2019, and earns that place in other markets (such as the UK and US) due to its relative affordability. Down under, it's a little more expensive and doesn't quite earn that spot, but it's still absolutely worth considering (especially if it's on sale). With an eye catching design and brilliant build quality, which we've come to expect from Dell's Alienware brand, this is an incredible performer, offering a choice of some of the very best gaming components on the market right now, including 9th generation Intel Core processors and Nvidia's latest RTX range of GPUs. Sure, it's pretty expensive, but if you're serious about getting the best gaming laptop money can buy in 2019, then you'll need to expect to splash out a little bit, and the Alienware Area-51m really is worth every penny.

Read the full review: Alienware Area-51m

Which type of laptop is best for you?

General laptops: This broader category is dedicated to devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. That’s not to say they can’t be fast, but you’ll typically find a non-Ultrabook clamshell laptop with an HD screen and spinning drive-based storage for less than AU$1,000.

Ultrabooks: Where you’ll find thin-and-light notebooks sporting SSD storage and display resolutions that exceed 1080p. Paired with powerful, albeit mobile-centric components and especially long battery life, the best Ultrabooks will cost a pretty penny – closer to AU$1,000 to AU$3,000.

2-in-1 laptops: Where notebooks that double as tablets are located. Outfitted with both detachable and 360-degree rotating hinges, these hybrids are the most versatile way to experience Windows 10 (or Chrome OS) on a touchscreen.

Chromebooks: Where you’ll find the best Chromebooks running Chrome OS. These do much of what Windows and macOS can in the browser, focused on cloud storage over local, while recently getting Android app support for touchscreen models. They generally cost less than AU$500.

Gaming laptops: Need a laptop to play games (almost) just like a shiny desktop PC can? Then you’ll want one of the best gaming laptops. These machines generally cost more than AU$1,000 and can quickly get into the AU$4 – 5,000 range for the beastlier models.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Redesigned leather Apple Watch bands could be coming soon

A new set of leather Apple Watch bands has appeared and they look like a significant redesign, with a handful of colorful options and a magnet-only clasping effect.

While the previous Apple Leather Loop had an eponymous loop, this new leather option doesn’t – it seems to secure by simply wrapping one side over the other. Vietnamese tech site Tinhte managed to get a hold of the alleged leather strap in several color options, and even showed it off in a video:

This is the new version of the Apple Leather Loop, and the version displayed was for the larger 44mm Apple Watch 5 model depicted in video and photos, though it would be odd if it wasn’t also released in the smaller 42mm size.

While the prior Apple Leather Loop design had a segmented look, this new alleged band has them rounded into cylinders – assumedly with magnetic cells inside. It’s also more breathable than its predecessor, Tinhte noted, and is waterproof.

Will we get this new Apple Watch band before the Apple Watch 6?

The report didn't reveal when this leather band could be released, but given the digital-only Apple WWDC 2020 keynote date is June 22, we might see it released then.

Apple has already promoted its upcoming Pride-themed watchbands in both Sport-style and the beehive-hole Nike style. Given that those are fluoroelastomer, a new set of leather straps could accompany them in more subdued – but still lively – colors. 

Via MacRumors

eBay's AU$99 Apple AirPods deal is back, headlining a huge 'Plus Month' June sale

For the entire month of June, eBay is giving its Plus members access to exclusive daily deals on highly sought-after products, with savings of up to 80% on offer. 

The online marketplace's 'Plus Month' event starts on Monday and runs through to the end of the month, with a new Plus-exclusive deal launching at 10am each day. 

To kick it off, up for grabs from 10am next Monday (June 1) are the always-popular second-generation Apple AirPods, now going for just AU$99 – that’s a hefty 60% price cut from the RRP of AU$249.

Later this month, subscribers can also expect to see price drops on the AirPods Pro, the Nintendo Switch with Animal Crossing bundled in, and a half-price pre-order deal on The Last of Us 2 for PS4.

There will also be Plus-only deals from brands such as Xiaomi and Ecovacs, but there will be only one item carrying that jaw-dropping 80% discount – a SodaStream machine for the incredibly low price of just AU$19.

Snap it up

A word of warning: you'll likely have to be quick on the mouse to score these flash discounts, as demand has always been high in similar eBay sales previously. 

However, even if you aren't interested in competing for those daily deals, Plus members will still able to access a variety of other discounts, including a flat 20% off a wide range of items on eBay starting Monday, June 15 – we’ll be listing all the juiciest tech bargains from this sale on our dedicated eBay deals page.

As mentioned, this is an eBay Plus-member exclusive sale, so you will need to be a subscriber to take advantage of these savings. If you haven’t signed up yet, new subscribers can get a free 30-day trial of the service

If you decide to stick around, it will cost you AU$49 a year to carry on the membership, the perks of which include access to free returns on Plus items and, for this sale, free express metro delivery on millions of selected items.

Here's a preview of what to expect from some of those special daily deals:

Day Product eBay RRP eBay Plus deal Total discount
Mon, June 1 Apple AirPods (2019) AU$249 AU$99 60%
Tue, June 2 Finish Powerball tablets (45 pack) AU$88.90 AU$49 44%
Wed, June 3 Apple AirPods Pro AU$399 AU$249 38%
Thu, June 4 Healthy Choice 12L Digital Air Fryer AU$199 AU$99 50%
Fri, June 5 Ugg boots AU$69 AU$50 28%
Tue, June 9 Xiaomi Mi Air Purifier 3H AU$259.95 AU$179 31%
Sat, June 13 Bluey kids showbag AU$39.95 AU$15 62%
Mon, June 15 Pre-order: The Last of Us 2 (PS4) AU$99.95 AU$49 51%
Mon, June 15 Pre-order: Assetto Corsa Competizione (PS4) AU$69.95 AU$41 41%
Tue, June 16 Ecovacs Deebot N79T AU$279 AU$149 47%
Thu, June 18 Nintendo Switch w/ Animal Crossing AU$549.90 AU$449 18%
Thu, June 25 SodaStream AU$99 AU$19 80%

It all cracks off on Monday, June 1 at 10am.

PUBG Mobile Mysterious Jungle mode releases on June 1

Ever since the Covid-19 lockdown, PUBG Mobile has kept gamers busy, bringing several new modes of competition. Now, the gaming company announced that the next major update will arrive on June 1 in the form of a new Mysterious Jungle mode for all players. 

The company has teased the next major update for a while now and shared a tweet from its official handle that was as mysterious as the title of the mode. Obviously the update would be based on the Sanhok map and players will be paired up in teams of two who will be seeking clues for an in-game treasure. 

And while the treasure hunt is on, the players would also be required to keep track of enemies who too are seeking the treasure and battling them to get to it first. What appears a certainty is that since the new addition is based on the Sanhok map, the game would involve lots of jungle warfare. 

We do recall that PUBG had started teasing this new mode about two weeks ago. To be precise around the time the Royale Pass for Season 13 was released. Then, it was titled Jungle Adventure mode with totems in attendance to bless the players. There were also rumours that surveillance balloons will make an appearance on the game. 

The mode would feature the normal classic match but could also have some additions to the battlefield such as jungle food and the above-mentioned hot air balloons. The jungle food would be a provider of mysterious effects to players who consume these while traversing the Mysterious Jungle. We have to wait and watch what exactly would be these effects that Tencent is speaking about. 

In recent times, PUBG mobile has added two additional modes, including the Arctic mode for the Vikendi map where players brace up for the blistering cold weather to get the Bluehole mode for the Erangel map. In the second mode, players have to be cautious of blue Blue Zones that occur both outside and inside the safe zones. There was also the Miramar Map that got updated recently as Mad Miramar

Earlier this month, Tencent Games had opened registrations for PUBG Mobile India Series 2020, considered one of the biggest eSports tournaments in the country. There would be 256 teams competing for online qualifications besides direct invitations. 

This rugged smartphone has a massive 10,000mAh battery and it's on sale right now

The presence of a large battery in a modern smartphone often means you'll have to compromise on other features; but not so with the Oukitel WP6. You've probably never heard of the brand, but we reviewed one of its rugged smartphones back in 2018 (the WP2) if you want to get a feel for the devices.

The WP6 is available in both orange and black for $213.59 (£243.99/AU$443.78) at AliExpress. Despite its entry-level status, it sports some rather high-end features, such as 6GB of RAM and 128GB onboard storage.

It also boasts a 6.3-inch display with a 1080 x 2340 pixel resolution, which is higher than most laptops.

Another notable feature is its massive 10,000mAh battery - one of the largest we’ve seen in a rugged smartphone. With an 18W charger, you should be able to fill it up fairly quickly, and you can also use the WP6 as an emergency portable battery charger if you get caught short.

It also features an eight-core Mediatek Helio P70 CPU, 48-megapixel Sony camera sensor, IP68 rating, 16-megapixel front facing camera and Android 9.0.

It's worth noting, the device doesn't support wireless charging nor NFC, and we wouldn’t count on Oukitel to provide more than one Android update. 

If you're after an alternative, the Blackview BV9100 has an even bigger battery (13000mAh) and NFC, but costs more and has a significantly inferior set of components (slower CPU, a third less memory, half the storage, and a lesser camera sensor).

Bear in mind

  • If this product comes from mainland China, it will take at least a month to reach either the US or UK (and potentially more). You may be levied a tax either directly or through the courier.
  • If you've managed to get hold of a cheaper product with equivalent specifications, in stock and brand new, let us know and we'll tip our hat to you.

Oculus Quest 2: what we want to see

If the rumors are true, we won’t see the Oculus Quest 2 for another few months – October at the earliest and, if the coronavirus pandemic continues for another few months, not until 2021. At least, that’s the latest from a Bloomberg report that gave us our best look yet at Oculus’ next-gen headset. 

If we don’t get the Oculus Quest 2 for another year-and-a-half, what could the company do to improve? What steps could it take to make the next Quest the best VR headset ever? 

At this point with so much up in the air it's worth exploring every possible avenue Oculus could take with the Quest 2 – from its controllers and display technology, to its software, accessories and games. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together a wishlist for the headset by taking some of the loose rumors we’ve already heard and combined them with our thoughts on where VR is heading. It may not be exactly the headset Oculus is putting together, but we're hoping to see at least a few of these suggestions on the OQ2.

Cut to the chase 

  • What is it? The successor to the Oculus Quest, Oculus’ first stand-alone VR headset 
  • When is it out? Rumors point to an early 2021 launch date 
  • What will it cost? TBD, but the Quest had a lot of success at $399 / £399 

Oculus Quest 2 release date and price 

There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news is that, frankly speaking, we don’t have a firm release date from Oculus yet. The good news is that, based on some reporting by Bloomberg, we have a rough idea of what it could be.

According to industry experts who spoke to Bloomberg, Facebook originally planned on announcing the Oculus Quest 2 at this year’s Oculus Connect. That conference is usually held in late September or early October, but because of the pandemic, it may not take place until 2021 – hence why we might have to wait until 2021 to get the new headset.

As for price, well, we have a pretty good idea what to expect: $399 / £399. Every headset Oculus has ever released has been available at launch for $399 / £399, and that isn’t likely to change for the Oculus Quest 2, especially after Oculus had some of its best sales yet with the Oculus Quest. 

Based on rumored features that price sounds right, but there’s always the chance Oculus could include a last-minute addition to the headset – like, say, 1TB of flash memory – that could substantially raise the price. It probably won’t happen, though.

Oculus Quest 2 news and leaks 

If you’re really in the know about Oculus Quest 2, you’ll know it as ‘Del Mar’ – Oculus’ codename for the next hardware. 

According to people who have insider information, Del Mar will offer additional RAM, battery life and a faster processor, as well as some ergonomic improvements like a reduction in size and weight – but that’s as much as we know so far.

UploadVR and AndroidCentral corroborated the rumor that Oculus Quest 2 could feature an entirely new controller that makes improvements to the tracking, haptics and finger sensing technology inside the current hardware with developer documentation leaked by Facebook, so that seems like a fairly safe bet.

Speaking of hand tracking...

Oculus Quest 2: what we want to see 

1. Fully supported hand-tracking 

The highest item on our wishlist for the Oculus Quest 2 is full support for hand tracking – from the second you startup the headset to the time you turn it off. Now, obviously, we still expect most games to use some sort of controller, but it’d be great if you could navigate the UI and most of the pre-installed apps without ever having to pull out the controllers.

2. A higher resolution screen 

While we’re on the subject of improvements, it wouldn’t hurt for the next-generation Oculus Quest to have a slightly higher resolution... as long as it doesn't compromise the refresh rate of the screen or battery life. I know that sounds like complete wish fulfilment, but all Oculus would need to do here is upgrade the processor inside the headset while packing in a slightly larger or more efficient battery. 

That’s easier said than done and could compromise Oculus’ target price point, but as other headsets march forward with higher-resolution screens, Oculus will need to stay caught up.
 

3.  Better battery life 

One of the biggest flaws of the original Oculus Quest is that its battery life was incredibly short – roughly around two hours. That means there's a huge opportunity for Oculus to double or even triple battery life in the next-generation headset. 

That will be a challenge, obviously, but one of the ways that might be possible is by using Bluetooth LE or a similar technology that can transmit data wirelessly without a ton of power drain. It sounds like a longshot, but because Oculus owns both the hardware and software, it's not out of the question to see some big improvements in this area in the Oculus Quest 2.

Making the new controllers similar to the Valve Index Controllers could be a big selling point for the Oculus Quest 2.

4.  Knuckle Controller knockoffs 

While Oculus is conquering the untethered market at the moment with the Oculus Quest, Valve is sweeping the PC-powered space with the Valve Index. There's obviously a sizable difference in power and form factor between these two headsets, but one thing Oculus could do to level the playing field is make these next-gen controllers we've heard about capable of tracking every finger. 

Why should Oculus make the change? Having all your fingers recognized in virtual reality makes for a more immersive experience, not to mention it opens the door to a number of new experiences that aren't available on more limited headsets.

5. Also, an Oculus Link Cable in the box 

One of the biggest benefits of the Oculus Quest is that it doesn’t need a powerful PC to power it. And yet, for the times when you’re at home, it’s nice to be able to connect the Quest to the PC to play Oculus Rift games that didn’t make it to the Quest. The not nice part? Paying $80 for the Oculus Link Cable accessory.

We certainly didn’t blame Oculus for charging for the wire this generation – it released after the Quest was ready – but $80 (£89, around AU$120) feels a bit steep. Hopefully Oculus will pack it in with the next headset or, at the very least, lower the price to something more reasonable.
 

6. Even more Oculus Studio titles 

 While we’ve focused mainly on the hardware here, the future of virtual reality largely depends on the quality of the experiences you’ll get after buying a headset. The good news is that Oculus has one of the best studios in the business when it comes to funding and publishing VR games.

From Lone Echo to Lucky’s Tale to Asgard’s Wrath, nearly every title published by Oculus Studios has been a feather in the headset’s cap, and we’re hoping to see that trend continue on its next-gen hardware. 

7. More units available to buy at launch 

The Oculus Quest has been in and out of stock since the holidays last year – it's so popular that they've become almost impossible to find. Whether that's because Oculus can't keep up with production or because Oculus is limiting production, that demand works in Oculus' favor: it's no secret that scarcity and word of mouth reviews are powerful ways to keep boost sales numbers.

That being said, if Oculus wants to make the Quest 2 the de facto VR headset, it needs to be able to keep the headset in stock. But they might already know that: one of the possible reasons Bloomberg cited for the delay is for Oculus to get more production units ready in time for launch – which, if that's the case, seems like a very good decision on their part.

Anti-5G quantum machine turns out to be 128MB USB drive

Conspiracy theories surrounding the negative effects of 5G have become increasingly popular online and a company called BioShield Distribution has launched a new device which it claims can protect users from them using “quantum holographic catalyzer technology”.

The 5GBioShild recently went on sale in the UK for £283 ($348) and while the device is shaped like an ordinary USB key, its creators claim in can protect a users' entire home from 5G. On its website, BioShield Distribution provides further details on the technology inside its product, saying:

“The 5GBioShield USB Key with the nano-layer is a quantum holographic catalyzer technology for the balance and harmonisation of the harmful effects of imbalanced electric radiation. The nano-layer operating diameter is either 8 or 40 meters. The 5GBioShield USB Key is resulting from research of several decades in multiple countries. The active key operating diameter shields and harmonizes a complete family home.”

Despite the fact that extensive research has been done on the negative effects of 5G and even the World Health Organization (WHO) says the technology is safe, anti-5G campaigners believe that next-generation-networks can cause a range of health problems and some have even linked 5G to the spread of the coronavirus.

5GBioShield

To see if Bioshield Distribution's claims were true or the company is just masquerading an ordinary USB key as a device capable of protecting users from the effects of 5G, Ken Munro and his colleague Phil Eveleigh from Pen Test Partners ordered a 5GBioShield and dismantled the USB key.

In a blog post, Pen Test Partners detailed its tear down of the key as well as what it found inside, saying:

“As everyone is fully aware it is a USB key, we needed to tear the device down to see what else is within the casing. First, we managed to pull the device off the crystal, which showed nothing other than an LED at the end of the stick, the same as the other ‘crystal’ USB keys we found made in Shenzen. There were no additional components or any connections. The circular area on the main casing looked like it might be where the “quantum holographic catalyzer technology” transmitter might be. Carefully taking that off, not to damage the key components and, with crushing disappointment, it looked exactly like a regular sticker.”

Despite its high asking price, the 5GBioShield is actually a standard USB key with just 128MB of storage. However, this still hasn't stopped consumers from buying the product though as both the one pack and three pack of 5GBioShield USB Keys are currently on backorder on BioShield Distribution's website at the time of writing.

Via The Verge

The Umbrella Academy season 2: release date, trailer, cast and what we know

The Umbrella Academy season 2 release date is official: the series returns to Netflix in July 2020. Based on the comic of the same name by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, it was a quirky superhero show with a Wes Anderson-like style, following the dysfunctional, superpowered Hargreeves children who reunite to solve how their father died. 

That snowballed into averting the Earth's destruction, and a resulting cliffhanger ending that we look forward to being resolved in The Umbrella Academy season 2. While those working on the show haven't said much about season 2 yet, we can guess a little from episode titles that recently leaked. It seems we're probably not too far from a proper trailer, too.

Here's everything we know about The Umbrella Academy season 2, including its release date, trailer and cast.

The Umbrella Academy season 2 release date: July 2020

The Umbrella season 2 release date has now been revealed as July 31, 2020. Here's the extremely unusual filmed-at-home trailer confirming it, referencing a popular dance sequence from season 1:

Netflix has released new character art for The Umbrella Academy season 2, too:

The Umbrella Academy season 2 was confirmed by Netflix all the way back in April 2019 and shooting wrapped in November 2019. The post-production of the show has since been worked on remotely.

Showrunner Steve Blackman said it takes about 18 months to make a season, which – given that season one debuted on February 15, 2019 – means the July release date for The Umbrella Academy season 2 makes perfect sense.

Are these The Umbrella Academy season 2 episode titles?

Following a leak on the WGA website, we may now have an idea of the episode titles for The Umbrella Academy season 2. Naturally you should look the other way if you want to avoid spoilers, but know that we can only take these with a pinch of salt for now. Regardless, these are the leaked episode titles in no particular order, and the writers who may have worked on them: 

  • 743: Bronwyn Garrity, Roberto Askins
  • A Light Supper: Aeryn Michelle Williams
  • OGA for OGA: Nikki Schiefelbein
  • Right Back Where We Started: Steve Blackman
  • The End of Something: Steve Blackman
  • The Frankel Footage: Mark Goffman
  • The Majestic Twelve: Bronwyn Garrity
  • The Seven Stages: Mark Goffman, Jesse McKeown
  • The Swedish Job: Jesse McKeown
  • Valhalla: Robert Askins

When it comes to 'when' our heroes will be, 'Right Back Where We Started' implies that the team will be returned to their teenage selves, as was heavily hinted at the end of season 1. Potentially more interesting is 'The Majestic Twelve': could we be meeting more superheroes for season 2? Either way these are just leaks so far, so they are certainly subject to change.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The second season of Netflix’s big-budget adaptation of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s Dark Horse graphic novel series about a superpowered family.
  • Where can I watch it? Like the first season of The Umbrella Academy, season 2 will be available exclusively on Netflix. 
  • When can I watch it? This is still TBC, but it’ll almost certainly land at some time during 2020.

The Umbrella Academy season 2 story: what we expect

Right now, that’s the big mystery, because everyone connected to the show is playing their cards very close to their chests. 

It’s fairly safe to say, however, that the series will pick up directly after the end of season 1, where Number Seven/Vanya (who, unbeknownst to her family, had superpowers all along) blasted a chunk off the Moon – inadvertently causing the destruction of planet Earth. The teleporting Number Five saved the Hargreeves siblings by transporting them to another time – in the process reverting them to their teenage selves. 

“The truth is, we don't know where they are,” returning showrunner Steve Blackman told The Hollywood Reporter back in February 2019. “We don't know what happened to them. I wanted this to really be the best of cliffhangers, in that you're like ‘Wait, what? What happened?’ It gives us a lot of openness and legroom to tell the best story we can. But the apocalypse is not solved. They did not save the world, which is a slight alteration of the comic. To me, it was the right Netflix cliffhanger. You really want people to go into the off-season saying, ‘I gotta know what happened’, and that will be revealed when you see season two.”

All very mysterious – at least we know that the first episode of The Umbrella Academy season 2 will be called “Right Back Where We Started”.

While the TV show made a dramatic change from the comic book storyline because the Hargreeves siblings didn’t save the apocalypse, the show’s writer’s room is still using Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s graphic novels as a blueprint for the series. That means, there may be some clues in there – for example, it won’t be a surprise if The Umbrella Academy season 2 sees Number One/Luther dealing with depression, in the wake of revelations about his father’s decision to send him to the Moon for four years. 

“The goal is not to diverge [from the graphic novels],” Blackman told Indiewire. “Not everything translates from the graphic novel page to the screen, but there’s a legion of fans and I want to bring in a whole new legion of fans who’ve never read the graphic novel, so the goal is not to just go off in our own direction.”

And Gerard Way (arguably more famous for his other job as My Chemical Romance’s frontman) is keen that the planned eight-part graphic novel arc he’s writing with Bá’s should keep setting the agenda – nobody involved wants the show to overtake the source material as Game of Thrones did George RR Martin’s novels. 

“The goal for us is to stay ahead of the show,” Way said in the same interview, “and since we’re on series three [of the comics], we are now ahead of the show.”

And in case of emergency, Way and Bá have assembled an 18-page roadmap for Blackman and the rest of the writing team so they know where everything’s going.

What questions does The Umbrella Academy season 2 need to answer?

The mystery of Vanya/Number Seven’s apparent lack of powers may have been solved, but The Umbrella Academy season 1 finale left plenty of threads dangling still to be explored.

Crucially, we know that on October 1, 1989, 43 women gave birth simultaneously. We’ve met seven of them, but what happened to the other 36? Surely we’ll be encountering more superpowered 30-somethings in season 2.

Then there’s the mystery of Sir Reginald Hargreeves, the superpowered siblings’ adoptive dad. The flashback in episode 10, “The White Violin”, suggests he may have come from another planet, but how did he end up on Earth? And how was he so certain about the impending apocalypse that he was prepared to kill himself to reunite his kids to save the world?

We’ve also got questions about the true extent of Klaus/Number Four and Vanya/Number Seven’s powers, and how spiritual, tentacle-wielding sibling Number Six/Ben lost his life. And we’d really like to know more about The Handler and her timeline-managing Temps Commission.

And if you had the question "will season 2 be sound mixed or edited?", we can confirm it's the former. Even the coronavirus won't stop every last peep in The Umbrella Academy being curated by hand. 

Umbrella Academy season 2 cast: who's in the show?

Although they’ll presumably be starting out in their teenage incarnations, the grown-up versions of the Hargreeves siblings are all back in action in season 2. 

That means returns for Tom Hopper (Number One/Luther – ability: super strength), David Castañeda (Number Two/Diego – ability: controlling the trajectory of projectiles), Emmy Raver-Lampman (Number Three/Allison – ability: can make people do anything she tells them to), Robert Sheehan (Number Four/Klaus – ability: talks to the dead), Aidan Gallagher (Number Five – ability: teleporting/time travel), Justin H Min (Number Six/Ben – ability: weird tentacle things) and Ellen Page (Number Seven/Vanya – ability: initially nothing, then everything). 

This Instagram post shows five of them having an on-set family reunion:

Three newcomers to the cast have also been announced – and seeing as they’re all the right sort of age to play 30-somethings, we reckon they could be members of that exclusive club of 43 superpowered sprogs born on October 1, 1989. The official Umbrella Academy Twitter account has this to say about them:

Lila (played by Ritu Arya)

  • A chameleon who can be as brilliant or as clinically insane as the situation requires.
  • Unpredictable, mischievous, sarcastic.
  • Twisted sense of humour.

Raymond (played by Yusuf Gatewood)

  • Born leader and devoted husband.
  • Has the smarts, gravitas, and confidence to never have to prove it to anyone. 
  • Has the innate ability to disarm you with a look.

Sissy (played by Marin Ireland)

  • Fearless, no-nonsense Texas mom.
  • Married young for all the wrong reasons.
  • Eager to rediscover what life and love has to offer.

And this is yet to be confirmed officially, but the timeline-hopping storyline means the apocalypse surely won’t have meant the end for time-travelling assassins Cha-Cha (Mary J Blige) and Hazel (Cameron Britton), or their boss The Handler (Kate Walsh). 

And somewhere between time travel, flashbacks and Klaus’s ability to talk to the dead, there should be numerous routes back for the deceased Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore), the siblings’ android Mom, Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins), and chimpanzee assistant Pogo (Adam Godley).

Bring on season 2

The end of the Marvel shows on Netflix might be a blessing in disguise. Marvel Studios now controls all live-action versions of its characters, and it's seemingly pushed Netflix to adapt some more unusual superhero fiction. As well as The Umbrella Academy, the streaming service also has adaptations of comics by Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar on the way (which will be a very different proposition).

Being based on a non-Marvel comic clearly didn't hurt The Umbrella Academy's popularity at all. Let's hope we see many more seasons of it. 

Remote work could be putting sensitive corporate data at risk

New research from Digital Guardian has revealed that hundreds of terabytes of potentially sensitive corporate data could be at risk from employees who stored data on USB drives while working remotely during the pandemic.

The firm's new DG Data Trends Report assessed the risk of sensitive data loss during the Covid-19 crisis. To compile its report, Digital Guardian aggregated and anonymized data from nearly 200 customers of its Managed Security program around the globe.

In order to better understand how employees stored sensitive corporate data before and during the pandemic, the company analyzed a data set from January until April of this year. This enabled Digital Guardian to compare data egress patterns before and after employees began working from home.

Data egress

According to Digital Guardian's report, there was a 123 percent increase in the volume of data downloaded to USB devices by employees after they began working remotely and 74 percent of that data had been classified by organization's data governance policies.

Cloud storage and USB devices became employees most preferred egress paths during the pandemic and accounted for 89 percent of all data egressed. The report also found that data egress was 80 percent higher in the first month following the WHO's pandemic declaration. To make matters worse, over 50 percent of the data egressed was classified.

From March 11 to April 15, employees uploaded a total of 336 TB of data to the cloud representing a 72 percent increase from January and February combined.

In a press release, vice president of cybersecurity at Digital Guardian, Tim Bandos warned that IT and security professionals should pay particular attention to the significant uptick in USB device usage for storing data, saying:

“Organizations have accepted that the economic and health effects of COVID-19 will be with them for the foreseeable future and working from home will remain a requirement for many of their employees. Our research indicates remote employees are egressing classified data at unprecedented rates across all egress paths. Executives and security teams would be wise to consider implementing solutions that provide visibility into this behavior, and a means to control it, in order to avoid a potential data breach.”

Henry Cavill could play Superman again, says report – but in which movie?

Henry Cavill may return to the role of Superman, according to a new report, but this doesn't mean The Man of Steel 2 is in the works. Deadline says Cavill is in talks to reprise his role of Clark Kent in a couple of ways, though neither apparently involve a standalone movie. 

So what could it be? Deadline floats the idea of Cavill possibly turning up in a cameo role in an upcoming DC movie, like Aquaman or Shazam 2. The original Shazam! clearly made room for a cameo from Cavill's Superman that didn't materialize. 

Either way, it'd be the first time Cavill would reprise the role since 2017's disastrous Justice League film. DC's movies have been on an upwards trajectory since then, with Aquaman somehow making over a billion dollars. 

Cavill's Superman will appear in 2021's Snyder Cut of the Justice League, coming to HBO Max, and recently made a surprise appearance in Snyder's Man of Steel viewing party. Cavill has found significant success as Geralt of Rivia since the release of Justice League in The Witcher on Netflix. 

Whatever happened to Henry Cavill's Superman?

Cavill's version of Superman was never the problem with Snyder's DC movies. The actor got a lot more to do in Man of Steel compared to Batman vs Superman, which shifted focus to Ben Affleck's Batman. Cavill's Superman was a little stiff and cold in both movies, maybe, but that's more to do with the tone of the films than his performance.

If anything, the best parts of The Witcher are when Cavill's Geralt actually gets to be funny. Justice League only scratched the surface of this.

A Man of Steel 2 was planned at some point, with Kingsman's Matthew Vaughn rumored to direct. In 2018, a report circulated that Cavill's Superman wasn't going to appear again. Clearly, something has changed in the meantime.

New JioFiber plans offer up to 15,000GB at 1Gbps

JioFiber was announced in India back in September after all the hype. The service was limited to a few cities at the start and after a few months, it was expanded to several parts in India. 

Now, with most of the public working from home and consuming a lot of data, JioFiber has announced a new plan which gives additional data benefits for existing users and new users can get double data offer for a limited period of time. Most of the additional data is valid for the annual plan which is optional. The new plans are now updated on the official site

New JioFiber plans 

The new JioFiber offers provide up to 50% additional data for most plans and add at least 100 GB additional data for each plan that exists. However, the speed and price remain unchanged for all the plans. Also, the extra data is applicable for annual plans.

The basic Bronze plan gives an additional 100GB data which takes it to 350GB/mo with up to 100Mbps speed. The Silver plan users get 800GB FUP limit comparted to the 600GB with up to 100Mbps speed. The Gold plan now comes with 1,750GB data which is 500GB upgrade with up to 250Mbps speed. The Diamond plan gets over 1TB additional data taking the FUP tally to 4,000GB with up to 500Mbps speed.

The Platinum plan subscribers get 7,500GB data limit compared to the 5,000GB limit. The speed here is up to 1Gbps. Lastly, the top of the line and expensive Titanium plan gets an additional 5,000GB data which takes up the FUP limit to whopping 15,000GB with speeds up to 1Gbps. 

JioFiber old plan vs new comparison

Plan name Old plan (speeds up to) new plan (speeds up to) Price/month
Bronze 250GB @ 100Mbps 350GB @ 100Mbps Rs 699
Silver 600GB @ 100Mbps 800GB @ 100Mbps Rs 849
Gold 1,250GB @ 250Mbps 1750GB @ 250Mbps Rs 1,299
Diamond 2,750GB @ 500Mbps 4,000GB @ 500Mbps Rs 2,499
Platinum 5,000GB @ 1Gbps 7,500GB @ 1Gbps Rs 3,999
Titanium 10,000GB @ 1Gbps 15,000GB @ 1Gbps Rs 8,499

Note: additional data is valid for the annual plan only, which is optional.

Additionally, all plans get complimentary Jio services like voice calls, TV video calling, zero-latency gaming, home networking, and device security( up to 5 devices). The Diamond, Platinum, and Titanium plans get VR experience, premium content, and OTT apps. 

Recently, the ISP also made Rs 199 plan available to users as an add-on over their current plans. After racing your respective FUP limit, the speed drops to 1Mbps. This plan can act as a stand-alone and as an add-on. 

Minecraft Dungeons could slay your PC’s data when you uninstall it – but there’s an easy fix

Minecraft Dungeons has a really serious bug whereby in certain cases it could remove a hefty chunk of other files from your PC as well as its own data – potentially even wiping the drive the game’s installed on.

As mentioned, this is only happening to some users, and the good news is that there’s now an update for Minecraft Dungeons which solves the problem.

The bug specifically affects players who have installed the game in a custom directory, and then chose to uninstall the Minecraft Dungeons Launcher using the Add/Remove Programs facility in Windows.

In this scenario, there is a chance that the game will remove the parent directory, and if there’s anything in that, Minecraft Dungeons will take those files with it. In other words, if you’ve installed the game in C:\Minecraft Dungeons, the parent folder is your actual C: drive – and that could be entirely wiped.

This problem was highlighted on Twitter by a user who had Minecraft Dungeons installed on their games SSD, and it wiped out the entire drive.

Quick hotfix

Note that this problem does not affect those who have installed Minecraft Dungeons from the Microsoft Store, and also there is now a hotfix available, as Tom’s Hardware reports. You can apply that fix simply by restarting the Dungeons Launcher, which should then grab it automatically.

Before you uninstall the game, be sure that the Microsoft Dungeons Launcher is running Bootstrap version 166 or higher. To check this, go to Settings > About > Bootstrap, and if the version number is lower than 166, restart the Launcher.

Whatever you do, don’t uninstall the game if you aren’t on version 166 or higher, as you may run the above data wipe risks otherwise.

Why on earth did this happen, then? That’s a good question, and Mojang’s Marcio Oliveira, who is Tech Lead for the Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons Launcher, explains: “When a player selected a custom ‘Install Location’ in the Dungeons installation dialog, the Dungeons Launcher was taking that location and naively considering that only files written by the Dungeons Launcher would live there.

“Thus, when uninstalling the Launcher, the uninstall logic would simply delete that ‘Install Location’ folder, to leave no traces of program files created by the Launcher on disk.”

That’s a pretty shocking coding oversight, although sadly it’s far from a first in PC gaming. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor, an RPG released just after the turn of the millennium, suffered from an uninstall bug which could wipe out your system files.

More recently, Realm of the Mad God Exalt – a niche Flash-based RPG mixed with twin-stick shooter – suffered from the same problem as Minecraft Dungeons exhibits here (albeit with the beta client, but still – it’s a terrible error to inflict on the player base).

Windows 10 May 2020 Update is available now - here’s how to get it

After almost a year and a half of beta testing, Microsoft's Windows 10 May 2020 Update is finally available to download. 

The update, also known as Windows 10 version 2004, brings a host of noteworthy features to Microsoft’s desktop OS. These include an all-new File Explorer, enhanced search functionality, support for password-free logins and new Cortana experience, with the digital assistant being transitioned to become a separate app while offering more conversational interactions.

Other additions include a Cloud Download feature to make resetting Windows 10 back to its default configuration a much easier task, along with changes to virtual desktops, DirectX 12 Ultimate support and more.

To download the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, you can check if it's available in Windows Update. To do this, head to Windows Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates. 

If the update is ready for your PC, you’ll see a 'Feature update to Windows 10, version 2004' message appear under Optional Updates. You can then begin downloading by clicking 'Download and install now.'

Microsoft notes, however, that the update is being released on a staggered basis, which means it won't be available to all Windows 10 users at the same time.

"You may not see [the update] on your device as we are slowly throttling up this availability over the coming weeks, or your device might have a compatibility issue for which a safeguard hold is in place until we are confident that you will have a good update experience," Microsoft says.

Though it might not arrive on your PC for a few more weeks, you can the Update Assistant tool to force the installation of the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. 

However, given the number of issue-ridden updates Microsoft has released in recent months, there will inevitably be problems for some people, so it could be worth holding off for now.

Microsoft’s next major update for Windows 10, currently known as Windows 10 20H2, will be released later in the year. However, rumours suggest the update will be a low-key affair; much like the November 2019 Update, it will likely focus on minor tweaks and fixes, rather than new Windows 10 features. 

Vivo's true wireless earbuds pop up on e-store

Vivo’s upcoming truly wireless earbuds have been listed on its official e-commerce website in China. The New Vivo TWS Neo is said to come with slight improvements over the last offering from the company. 

The listing on Vivo’s Official store in China shows the design of the earbuds along with some specifications. The design resembles a lot like Apple’s 2nd gen Airpods and comes with improved canal design than its predecessor. There are two microphones on both the sides of the earpiece for better audio capture.

The charging case has an LED light indicator in the front, and the shape is somewhat similar to the previous earbuds that launched late last year. The listing also includes key specifications of the device with some equalizer settings written as Clear Vocals, Super Bass, Bright Treble indicating the audio features.

Specifications in the listing say the Vivo TWS Neo will have a 14.2mm Audio driver unit. It also has support for Qualcomm’s AptX Audio  Codec and DeepX Stereo effects for high-quality audio streaming.

This codec is said to output 1.5 times better audio than other traditional TWS with SBC and AAC codecs. The website also claims some great audio quality through these features. The listing mentions two colourways - Blue and White. 

Apart from this, there is a placeholder price on the website and the real pricing could be different. Vivo is yet to give a word on this. If we were to guess, it should be priced competitively to rival the likes of the recently launched Huawei Freebuds 3.

Vivo is holding a launch event on June 1 where it is said to announce the new Vivo X50 and we are expecting the TWS alongside the new 5G smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 is now in production, according to the latest leak

The Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 seems to be schedule to be announced in August, as a report from Korea states that the phone has just entered mass production.

Daily Korea reported on insider information around Samsung’s current manufacturing scenario. 

It says Samsung has already placed bulk orders for the components needed for mass manufacturing with major suppliers. Considering that foldables use more complex parts, the report believes that the time lag from order to delivery of components will also be slightly longer than usual.

One of the biggest changes expected from the original Fold is a shift to UTG (ultra-thin glass) instead of plastic for the display. This will add more robustness to the mechanism that is used for folding, which will go through a multitude of folds and unfolds in its lifetime. 

A similar implementation was seen on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.

The Fold 2 is expected to share the stage with the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 series in August. A second foldable which will be considerably cheaper is also said to be in the works, which will use similar tech to both the original Fold and the Z Flip. 

If things pan out as expected, Samsung will flood the ultra-premium segment with multiple capable foldables, extending its lead over the competition. They will be the first Galaxy flagships to be made official over a virtual event as Samsung won’t be able to hold its Unpacked event physically due to the ongoing pandemic.

As for the Samsung Galaxy Fold 2, it is also expected to offer a higher refresh rate of 120Hz, a periscopic telephoto camera and support for the S-pen stylus. The outer display is also expected to be bigger and more functional this time while Samsung is also likely to make structural improvements to the design too.

Indian startup Vestaspace plans over 35 5G satellites

Indian space technology startup Vestaspace Technology, which specializes in making small satellite platforms for commercial and scientific applications, is attempting to launch a constellation of over 35 satellites to build 5G network connections across the country.

The Pune-based company will release a beta version of the satellite constellations this September, and the launch of a fully operational constellation of satellites in early 2021. 

As per a company statement, Vestaspace is installing eight ground stations and 31,000 data receptors all over India in a bid to provide 5G internet network solutions to the urban, rural and unserved regions. This has been made possible with the help of accurate positioning and telemetry related activities.

All the constellations of satellites will be placed into the Leo and Geo orbits.

Arun Sureban

Arun Kumar Sureban, Founder and CEO, Vestaspace Technology, said “We are on a mission to make space accessible to everyone who once thought satellites were rocket science. Not only this, through our secured connections a common person can also access to the satellites of their choice and to get immersed in the world of space.”

Sureban has been quoted by BusinessLine as saying that "the company has taken all regulatory and required licences from the government. The services will be offered in Ku and Ka bands. To start with, the company plans to offer bandwidth to existing telecom operators and internet service providers, but it has taken licence to offer services directly to customers at a later stage."

Similar to SpaceX plans

In India, regulatory norms permit only the State-backed ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) to provide satellite coverage over Indian space. In the event, Vestaspace has to have all permissions before putting the satellites in space.

Devas Multimedia was a similar company in India, but all its plans ran into trouble, and as a company, it was mired in a lot of controversies. 

Vestaspace's ideas seem similar to what Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to do with its Starlink internet satellites. Starlink is targeting service in the Northern U.S. and Canada in 2020.

The company hopes to replace traditional fibre networks with all the satellite constellations and provide high-speed 5G-network connections pan-India with its unmanned software data processing along with successful launches of orbiting satellites and understanding next-generation satellites data needs.

Recent funding has made Vestaspace reach for sky

Vestaspace, founded in 2018, recently secured  $10 million funding from Next Capital LLC, an American investment and advisory firm to expand the reach of Vestaspace innovative solutions across India and the world.

Sureban, who has worked on a series of CubeSat (CubeSats are miniature satellites used exclusively in low Earth orbit for applications such as remote sensing or communications) and Nanosatellite projects, is optimistic that the funding will enable the startup to scale up significantly. He estimates a growth boost of up to 300 per cent.

But Vestaspace has its task cut out. For, satellite-based 5G availability in India is a bit of an enigma as of now. The country is still to decide its stance on 5G trials, spectrum auctions, and the deployment of high-speed networks.

The International Telecom Union (ITU), which is part of the United Nations (UN), is holding a virtual meeting next month. Ahead of the meeting, phone companies in India have reached out to Anshu Prakash, the telecom secretary of India, to clear blurry lines on India’s plan for 5G spectrum auctions, trials, and roll-out.

Via ET Telecom

PUBG Mobile’s next update will bring the mother of all maps

PUBG Mobile partnered with a YouTuber to showcase an exclusive preview of the upcoming map, which will be the biggest update yet to the game.

Historically, PUBG has always brought new features and weapons to its PC/console games first, before making their way to the mobile version with the next major update. However, for the first time ever, it seems like PUBG Mobile will be the first to get this new upcoming map. YouTuber Powerbang Gaming got an early preview of the game to showcase the new changes.

It needs to be noted that the unnamed map is currently in beta, and could change when it actually rolls out. There are a ton of new environmental features too, which will have to be fine-tuned. It is available in a closed beta only, with a build number of 0.19. PUBG Mobile did share a rather cryptic clue with us last week, which now seems to be another teaser of the upcoming overhaul.

The teaser shared by PUBG Mobile with us, with the message "Join us at the Gamer's Cafe to enjoy a cup of coffee while we break new ground"

The map is currently labelled as “Secretmap Beta”, but will get a more conventional name in the final version. It is significantly smaller than the other regions, spanning just 2km x 2km. Most interestingly, it looks like a combination of the four current maps — Miramar’s desert, Vikendi’s tundra, Sanhok’s forests and water bodies and Erangel’s grasslands. A new style of houses can also be seen, with some locations having weapon crates with regular weapons but with all the attachments.

The new map

Not just that, additional environmental features have also been added, including a waterfall. Swimming against the stream will reveal treasure chests, which will presumably be filled with loot in the final version. Considering the smaller size of the map, the loot is also very concentrated.

The treasure chest under the waterfall

Gameplay changes include a new enemy marking feature, where as soon as an enemy is cleared spotted, they are marked (similar to “Enemies ahead!”) and tracked till they die. While landing from the plane, the vague altitude bar is replaced by a new altimeter which shows exact distance to the ground.

Two new weapons were also spotted in this beta PUBG Mobile game. The P90 SMG now makes its way to the classic mode, with a 50-bullet mag size. The SPAS shotgun has also been added which seemed to be suppressed by default. It’s unclear if these weapons will be exclusive to this map.

The new monster truck!

Perhaps the most fun addition is the new driveable monster truck. As expected, it can ride over all sorts of terrain and potholes and over other vehicles too. They could be rarer than the other vehicles on the map. Vehicles can also be found on the spawn island now, before the match starts.

No timeline for the official rollout was mentioned. PUBG seems to be in the early testing phase as many features will be added for the first time. Some may not even make it to the final game, but knowing its track record, it is more likely that they well. Along with this, we also expect the overhauled Vikendi map with trains to be added in the future PUBG Mobile updates.

Vodafone easily has the UK's best broadband deal...but it ends tonight

It's our favourite internet plan out there right now, Martin Lewis is raving about it and it undercuts the rest of the market for price...you'll just need to be very quick if you want to get your hands on it.

Vodafone has always had one of the best value broadband deals out there but right now it is at its height. With bills of just £22.95, it is cheaper than most fibre plans, while also going double on the speeds, landing you an average of 63Mb.

That already makes this a strong offering but then when you include the fact that Vodafone isn't charging any upfront costs, offering discounts to existing customers and is throwing in a £75 Amazon voucher on top, nothing comes close to this.

This promotion has already been extended once but with an end date of May 28 (tonight), we wouldn't risk seeing if Vodafone is feeling generous a second time. And if you do happen to miss it, there are plenty of other strong fibre broadband deals out there.

Vodafone's fantastic fibre broadband deal in full:

It's worth noting that if you head straight to the Vodafone website and try to find this deal, you won't be able to - at least not with that generous Amazon.co.uk Gift Card. This is an offer that's exclusivity to only a few websites, and you have to click through from one of the links on this page.

Read more:

Google accused of illegally tracking Android phone users

Google is in a soup. 

It has been sued for allegedly tracking Android users’ location without their consent and even when the location tracking features had been manually disabled.

According to a report in Washington Post, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed the lawsuit saying that Google kept location tracking running in the background for certain features, like weather and for web searches using its search engine and Chrome browser, even after the user disabled app-specific location tracking. 

The tracking apparently stopped only after users turned off broader system-level tracking. The complainant alleged that Google stealthily collected the location data for whatever reason it wanted to.

“Though Google claims to have obtained consent to collect and store its users’ data, that consent is based on a misleading user interface, as well as other unfair and deceptive acts and practices,” the lawsuit alleges.

The allegation is Google collected location data to deliver targeted ads to Arizona residents who may not have consented to such tracking in the first place.

The lawsuit also alleges that Google changes its privacy permissions without notifying users and that its WiFi settings are misleading because they must be turned off in two separate places to disable location tracking.

Google’s Android operating system dominates the smart phone market, and its search engine comprises the overwhelming majority of online searches.

Our services are mischaracterized: Google

Brnovich wanted Google to pay back ill-gotten profits from its alleged misdeeds, totaling perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars, the attorney general said. 

As it happens, this is not the first time Google is under attack for such alleged missteps. The company has mostly responded to privacy concerns over the years with ad-hoc measures like making it easier to auto-delete one's location data, and cracking down on offending third-party apps that do so without consent.

But its efforts are mostly viewed with suspicion, and the general refrain among lay people is: Google knows wherever you are, and whatever you do.

Google is cliaming that its services are being mischaracterized. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda was quoted as saying by the news agency AP.  “We look forward to setting the record straight.”

Google and its YouTube subsidiary, as well as the other major tech companies, are facing a number of regulatory and legal issues right now, following antitrust and privacy enforcement in the European Union.

The Valorant beta ends today, so you don't have to watch Twitch anymore

Riot Games’ competitive team-based shooter, Valorant, has been in beta for almost two months, but the action will grind to a halt at 9am PT/5pm BST today (May 28).

If you search for a game after this time you won’t be able to find a match. However, if you’re currently battling it out around that time, the game servers will close at 10:30am PT/6:30pm BST, which should give you plenty of time to wrap up the win.

Valorant has shot to Twitch stardom due to Riot Games’ rather ingenious plan to only provide beta keys via Twitch drops for viewers. That meant a lot of people watched hours and hours of Valorant in the hopes of getting a key.

When the game launches on June 2, all the progress from the Valorant beta will be reset, apart from any rewards that players have earned. Interestingly, if you purchased any skins in the beta, these will not carry over. Instead, you’ll be refunded the Valorant points you spent (the game’s currency) and receive an additional 20% in return. Nice.

Medal of honor

Valorant has been generally well-received by gamers during its closed beta, although it’s faced criticism for its lack of protection against cheaters, who managed to disrupt the game early on, and its spotty hit-detection, which is a game-breaking bug for a competitive shooter. 

Riot Games’ has promised that Valorant will feature new content during the game’s launch window, including a new map, a new game mode, a new agent and probably loads of new skins for players to buy. 

Like any big online release, it will be interesting to see whether Valorant’s servers will be able to cope with a large influx of players at launch. Historically, developers have struggled to cope with initial demand, which always sets the game off on the wrong foot. With such a lengthy beta, though, specifically aimed at generating hype for the game, let’s hope that Riot Games has everything in place to deliver a smooth launch on June 2.

Via Forbes

After Facebook, now Microsoft seeks stake in Jio Platforms

Microsoft could become the latest global entity to seek a share of the Jio Platforms pie as the tech major is reportedly negotiating an investment worth $2 billion. Facebook and institutional investors have already pumped in over $10.3 billion dollars into the Mukesh Ambani-owned digital services company. 

A report in The Mint quotes sources close to the discussions to suggest that Microsoft, which had been discussing possible investments with several players in the digital services business, could acquire a 2.5% stake. Jio Platforms is a unit of India's most valuable company Reliance Industries.

Facebook was among the first of the tech giants to commit itself to Ambani's dream of creating a monolith in the digital marketplace, including taking on Amazon and the Walmart-owned Flipkart on the eCommerce front with their Jio Mart, an online venture that went live just a week ago.  

If the discussions between Microsoft and Jio Platforms fructifies, it would mean that the world's most valuable company would own a small slice of India's most valuable company, which is currently valued at a whopping Rs.5 trillion, which roughly translates to a whopping $66 billion. 

While Facebook pumped in $5.7 billion for a 9.9% stake, the other marquee investors added more than $4.33 billion. This includes $1.5 billion each from KKR & Co and Vista Equity Partners, $0.87 billion from General Atlantic and $0.75 billion from Silver Lake. 

However, the report suggests that there is no guarantee that the investment from Microsoft would go through though earlier this year Microsoft had partnered with Reliance Jio to set up data centres across the country. They had also done a deal whereby Jio would use Microsoft Azure's cloud service for enterprise customers. 

The Jio Platforms combine all of Reliance's digital and telecom initiatives that includes Jio Digital services offering mobile and broadband, apps, tech capabilities, big data etc. besides their investments in Hathway Cable, Datacom Ltd. and Den Networks. 

Meanwhile, reports emerged that Reliance Industries was preparing for an overseas listing of the digital business. Such an offering could take place within the next 12 to 24 months though the venue wasn't yet confirmed. A report published on ET claimed that  the timeline and the size of the public offering too were under discussion. 

Via: The Mint

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