Chinese Agencies Demands Result in iBooks and iTunes Shut Down

Apple is one of the few companies that has managed to stay active in China where regulation of digital services is strictly controlled by the countries many agencies. That was until last week when several of Apple’s services were shut down in China.

Apple’s iBooks store and iTunes movies were shut down last week, following the demands of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. Apple has since responded saying that they hope to “make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible”, something that implies there is a condition to the services.

Apple managed to launch Apple pay in the country just two months ago, and with it counting China’s as its second biggest market, any services that are stopped would have a huge impact on the company. China is known for the censorship of its technology, with the country hidden behind “the great firewall” while it’s suspected that several groups within the country are behind large-scale hacks in other countries.

Recently Apple denied ever handing over its source code to China, a move that may or may not have contributed to the states less favorable look for the California-based company.

iTunes Allowance to Shutdown Next Month

iTunes allowance is a service that allowed parents to place money into their child’s iTunes account on a monthly basis. No need to allow them to borrow your card or even for you to type into or access their account, preventing you from hundreds of pounds of charges to your card you never expected. Come next month though and the service will be shut down.

In an announcement, Apple has stated that after April 13th users aren’t able to create new iTunes allowance setups, with all current allowance setups being shut down as of May 25th. If you are one of the many who already has a system in place, don’t worry any unused allowance will remain in the account until it has been used, while Apple is keen to stress that similar effects can be achieved using different schemes they provide.

If you are looking to provide for your family, you can share your purchases through the family sharing feature while if you are looking to take sole control of the system then using the  iTunes gift system would be ideal. With no reasoning behind the removal of the feature, people are left wondering if the new systems will teach the same values about money and the consequences of spending an allowance.

Apple Will Start Phasing Out Plastic Bags This Month

Buying an Apple product is almost as symbolic as the illuminated apple located on the back of your device, with the whole experience of walking out the store reminding you of that new gadget feel before you’ve even opened the box. Part of this experience is the bag you get the new product in, a plastic bag emblazoned with the Apple logo. This part of your experience may be changing with Apple looking to phase out plastic bags later this month.

Revealed by 9to5Mac, a note sent to employees reveals plans for the bags to be replaced by paper bags. The new paper bags will be made with 80 percent recycled materials, a move intended to further Apple’s goal of leaving the world “better than we found it”.

The change will start on the 15th April, with stores looking to use up their plastic bags as soon as they can. Much like when you go shopping customers are now also going to be asked if they want a bag and being given the choice between medium and large sizes, both of these actions look to help reduce the number of bags used and the amount of material given away in the form of bags.

If this wasn’t enough, people who are looking to recycle their iOS devices will get a new “Apple Renew” card, a gift card made out of recycled paper.

With Apple already running their facilities on renewable energy and now using recyclable materials for their stores, leaving the world better than we found it is a step closer to being a reality.

Microsoft’s Unified Gaming Platform Hits More Trouble

Microsoft has long been keen on repairing what can only be described as a damaged relationship with the PC gaming community. After a slew of initial releases, Microsoft’s game for Windows Live has soured many experiences of games the company is directly involved, made worse by the lack of features (and sometimes playability at all) when the service was taken down. Windows 10 looks to save them from this past but the initial signs all point to trouble.

One of the key selling points of Windows 10 is DirectX12, a new system designed to make games run not only faster but smoother with all the benefits of the latest generation of software. With “apps” being downloaded through the Windows 10 App store, sometimes with exclusive releases of big games like Gears Of Wars: Ultimate Edition, the limitations on these releases suddenly becomes frightening for PC gamers.

According to recent reports from Guru3D, when testing the latest Ashes of the Singularity beta disabling the vsync setting wouldn’t actually disable the feature. This is because of the technology used to display games in Windows 10, the windows display driver model 2.0.

You may not notice the problem though as programs downloaded from the store don’t expose an executable file, something that a lot of software uses to help mold their experience. Ever use Steam’s big picture mode or Fraps? They both use executable files from your programs to run, meaning using them with Windows 10 games may be more difficult than expected.

Microsoft has said how much they want to bring PC gamers back to trusting their development and platforms. With items like this happening and the quiet (and disastrous) release of Gears Of War Ultimate Edition on their store, they may be harming rather than helping their reputation with the gaming community.

Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition Releases Without A Word

The Gears Of War franchise has been known as a game for Xbox users for years, with them enjoying releases of the second and third game while PC users were stuck enjoying the small amount of content they gained in the first game. Finally, the series returns with a bang on the PC, okay maybe not a bang but more like a silent whisper as the Ultimate Edition releases without a word from anybody.

If you are a fan of the series you’ll be able to enjoy the remaster of the original trilogy on PC as of today. Already released on the Microsoft Store for Windows 10 users you can enjoy the new game as long as your PC feels brave enough to face its requirements. Surprisingly, the last we heard about the games release was the specification for your systems and rumours about an early 2016 release date.

Perhaps a reason for the release’s rather silent release and low price mark at just £22.79 is the lack of recommendations from users who are reporting difficulty with the games and bad performance on every hardware configuration imaginable. Typically a split between your graphics card manufacturers, both AMD and Nvidia users are reporting issues with the game and a user running an R9 Fury suffering from a frame rate of fewer than 10 frames per second almost consistently.

Given the bad performance, it’s no surprise that it is a known problem to Microsoft that you can’t even download the game anymore and with recommendations to download it again “in a few days”. Given it’s their first DX12 game and made by Microsoft for what is now their franchise, the few days could be a stall to try patch up the problems people have encountered before another Arkham Knight scenario happens.

Google Cardboard Can Now Be Brought In the Google Store

Google cardboard is a simple, low-tech, virtual reality system. The concept is simple, why buy technology you already have? By using your smartphone, you don’t have to go out and buy expensive hardware a second time around, meaning that the only thing left to do was keep the phone near to your eyes. Google cardboard does just that and now you can even get it through the Google store.

In a unique twist, Google has so far only sold the Cardboard through third parties, meaning that in order to grab the device (does it even count as a device if it’s just cardboard?) you had to find someone else online selling it. This has now changed with Google launching an entire VR section on their website, including the Cardboard for a low price. Costing only $15 for a single unit, or if you wanted to double up it would only cost you $25. At this moment in time, the Cardboard has sold out meaning that you may have to wait a little before enjoying the benefits of low-cost virtual reality.

With virtual reality and even augmented reality solutions being released this year, experiencing the world of VR before you pay out hundreds of pounds may be a good idea. So far the Cardboard has made a large impact, with Doctors even using it to save lives. What do you think? Is it worth buying to mount a phone to your head or is it the start of your journey with VR technology?

Quantum Break is Not Coming to Steam

Microsoft hasn’t treated PC gamers very well over the last decade due to the introduction of Games For Windows Live and failure to port major Xbox exclusives. This made the PC audience quite distrustful of any promises regarding a new attitude towards the platform. On another note, the company’s inability to take PC gaming seriously helped Valve to forge a huge audience on their Steam client. However, Microsoft’s new management is apparently more supportive of their gaming division, and wants to unify players across Xbox and PC.

Remedy, the studio behind Max Payne and Alan wake, recently announced Quantum Break’s release date. In a rather surprising move, they also confirmed a PC version was in development and said it would release on the same day as the Xbox One version. This is astonishing because Microsoft has either kept its core gaming line-up on the Xbox One or released smaller side projects like Halo: Spartan Assault. Furthermore, Rise of the Tomb Raider faced a small delay before coming to PC. Whether this was done to encourage consumers to purchase an Xbox One is unknown. Perhaps, the reasoning behind this was the game simply required more time to help with optimization.

As expected, Quantum Break will remain in the Microsoft ecosystem and not launch on the rival Steam client. Aaron Greenberg, Head of Xbox Games Marketing at Microsoft clarified on the MajorNelson podcast:

“So, Quantum Break on Windows 10 is a Windows store exclusive.”

This means you have to upgrade to Windows 10, and use Microsoft’s store. To be fair, Quantum Break is a DirectX 12 title and I welcome this decision to push forward and see how the new API could enhance performance across a number of systems. Saying that, the system requirements are extremely high. Arguably, this is a terrible idea because it’s limiting Microsoft’s install base. On the other hand, Microsoft doesn’t want to pay Valve any fees for selling games it funded. It’s clearly going to be a polarizing decision and there are merits to both arguments. Personally, I welcome competition in the form of another store, but also prefer to have all my games on Steam. Maybe, the ability to cross play with console owners and attain achievements will make the launch fairly successful. Although, I have my doubts.

Oculus Confirms Rift Compatible PC Bundles

 

The range of potential possibilities concerning the forthcoming Oculus Rift headset promises to be both exciting and also worth the wait, in theory, the problem lies with headset compatibility for the extensive array of PCs that are currently on the market. It seems Oculus have already thought of this and have recently released details of specially crafted PC bundles that have been tested to ensure the headset will work with the machine.

Oculus have announced the first set of machines from well-known computer manufacturers ASUS, Alienware and Dell; these PCs have been tested and also certified by Oculus. The headset manufacturer has also confirmed that the first bundles will be available to pre-order for consumers starting from the 16th February 2016 at 8 am pacific time.

Other confirmed details include the stockists that will be able to accept pre-orders for the bundle, these are, Best Buy, Amazon and the Microsoft Store. There is no word as yet if the UK will receive these bundles as the company has stated that it will “ship in limited quantities to select countries and regions”  One would have thought these bundles would eventually be available within the UK when you consider the size and also profitability of the market.

Below is a selection of Oculus-ready’ PCs that the company has announced, it has also been stated that consumers who were excited enough to purchase an Oculus Rift without yet owning a compatible PC, the company said pre-order customers will be able to purchase a discounted PC at a later date.

 

The price of these bundles will start at $1,499, for that you will receive an “Oculus-certified PC and everything that comes with Rift – the headset, sensor, remote, an Xbox One controller, EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack, and Lucky’s Tale”.

 

Newegg Still Working Hard to Launch UK Store @ CES 2016

CES 2016: Newegg is one of the largest stockists of computer hardware in the USA and offers a huge range of products at competitive prices. This means the consumer usually has some sort of pricing war between Newegg, Amazon and other stores, which results in impressive discounts. Some time ago, the company revealed their plans to enter the UK market and offer a rival to Scan, Overclockers, Aria, Amazon and more! However, there hasn’t been a lot of progress in this area despite the US website allowing you to purchase items in GBP. While this might seem like a good idea, you’re still purchasing the items from a US outlet, and any product is bound by a hefty delivery charge and import duty. Once you take this into account, the final cost will be significantly more than a UK retailer.

Even though Newegg’s UK representative couldn’t give a definitive answer on the UK site’s progress, he did mention that it’s being worked on and developments should be announced this year. Without saying too much, I’m pretty sure you can see at what I’m hinting at and I cannot wait to see how this might shake up the PC hardware market in the UK.

Huge Steam Error Exposes User Details!

Steam is a worldwide service designed to help you and your friends purchase and play games with a sense of security and unity. This doesn’t mean it’s perfect though as we found out this Christmas with a bunch of users reporting seeing other people’s details.

Reported on Reddit users were claiming that not only were their information displaying in another language it was also showing other usernames and information related to their accounts. While this may sound trivial the kind of information wasn’t, with everything from Steam Wallet balances, purchase histories and PayPal information being met with some contact information. While there has been no official word from Valve has of yet, but the steam services

While there has been no official word from Valve has of yet, but the steam services did go offline for a period before being brought back to life with a fix.

Steam Database, a service that keeps watch on steam from its sales to its services, reported that while it was being exposed the information was read-only. This means that people could only see your information, not change it. They go on to stress that it is not a hack but most likely a misconfiguration in Valve’s caching mechanisms. They then recommend asking Steam to forget your payment information as “Valve have proven multiple times that they’re unable to keep their security standards to a high level”.

Patent Troll to Pay Legal Fees

Patents are legal pieces of documentation to say that you are the creator or mind behind an idea or design, they are kinda like copyright although they can be a wider range of things such as the concept behind a piece of technology, rather than the exact components and designs needed to implement it. More often than not we find that there are groups or companies seeking to use these documents to gain money where none is due, these groups of individuals are called “Patent Trolls”. In a first, a District Judge in the US has asked a group to pay the legal fees of various companies it sued.

The concept is simple, claim you have the rights to a patent for a design or idea and then request that they pay you for anything they might have used that design for, this is especially common with things like software.

Judge Rodney Gilstrap has stated that due to the exceptional circumstance of the case eDekka LLC should be made to pay the legal fees from the various companies it sued. eDekka used a patent to sue more than 200 companies in 160 separate cases, the basis from which was their use of a database which eDekka claims their patent would reduce the time needed to retrieve information, however, when they were pressed more they began to explain the technology as a teaching tool that would help improve people’s ability to program databases and the systems that use them.

With it being considered an easy win by many patent trolls tend to hope for an early payment or a long drawn of battle resulting in the opposition not being able to continue the case. Hopefully this will deter people from trying to claim others works in exchange for an early payday.

Image courtesy of Book Masters.

New Characters Revealed For Super Smash Bros

The Super Smash Bros series is a fighting game made by Nintendo with a mix of their own characters and since the Wii version, characters from other game series. It would seem that Nintendo are keen to keep the sales going, and at Nintendo Direct, their own press event, they were keen to reveal the newest roster of characters for their game.

The initial roster was boosted by the likes of Roy, a character who has previously appeared within the series, Mewtwo and even Ryu from the street fighter series. The latest characters to be introduced to the series include Cloud Strife, the protagonist from the Final Fantasy series. Famous for his giant broad sword and lion emblem, Cloud won’t be joining the series alone.

Cloud will be joined by both Corrin, an armour clad warrior with a flaming serrated blade and a selection of dragon inspired moves and powers. Check out the video below if you want to see Corrin take on the “champions of smash”.

As if this wasn’t enough, Bayonetta is also joining the fight. With pistols strapped to her legs and the ability to summon demon’s limbs to smash her opponents off the screen,check out the video below to see just why you should avoid her in a fight.

Apple Turn Stores into Classroom for a Day

Apple is known for a wide variety of things, from their phones and tablets to their business practices with other companies and their own employees. Craig Federighi, one of Apple’s executives, wants them to be known for something else, something that he hopes will be the start of something amazing. Stating that he wanted to “set off a spark”, Apple is looking to turn their stores around the world into temporary classrooms in order to support the “Hour Of Code” programme worldwide.

The hour of code is designed as an introduction to programming, not only for learning the act of programming but developing the mindset of logically finding a solution to a problem. By supporting the scheme which is known around the world and backed by people such as David Cameron, Bill Gates, Barak Obama and even large companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, Apple hope that together the idea of a solitary computer programme could be proved wrong and more can be encouraged to look into the activity.

If you’re interested in the scheme you can find more information here, while the Hour of Code website provides year round tutorials and support for several programming languages.

If you’re not interested, please take a few minutes to watch the video below and consider what you could be capable of.

Amazon Passwords Could Have Been Leaked

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone goes crazy and starts buying ready for all the events and gift giving that is come over the next few months (some even preparing so much as to get some ordered for next year). Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year is upon us and with it a lot of people are looking and watching online stores waiting for that juicy one time deal they could quickly scope up before it all goes. To no surprise, Amazon is one of these online stores, so what does it mean when people started receiving emails asking them to change their passwords? That’s right another potential breach.

As reported by ZDNet, a selection of their readers received emails asking them to reset their password (the email was also sent via Amazons message centre, confirming that it came from a legitimate source). The reason given was that your password could have been stored on your device or transmitted in a way that exposed it to third parties.

Amazon continued to state they had corrected the issue, but that temporary passwords were being issued as a sign of caution.

Given recent hacks and breaches, it’s not surprising that Amazon is airing on the side of caution when it comes to people’s accounts, especially around this time of year.

2K Games Developer Sale at Humble Store

The Humble Bundle is a well-known thing to PC gamers. The concept is that a selection of games will become available for as little as $1, with additional games being unlocked when you pay a little more. With you able to define how much you give to Humble Bundle’s creators, the game owners and from a selection of charities, you are able to decide just where your money goes. More recently they began the humble weekly bundle, a smaller time offer (at the moment the weekly bundle is titled “Japan Edition All-Stars”) and then the Humble store, offering games with a confirmed percentage going to charity. If you’re a fan of 2K’s games then it may be worth checking the site out as they are currently having a sale which will intrigue even the most reserved gamers.

Xcom Enemy Unknown for £6.24 (75% off), Bioshock Infinite for £4.99 (75% off), Civilization 5 £4.99 (75% off) and the expansions are both £4.99 each (Brave New World and Gods and Kinds).

Get the latest Sid Meier’s Civilization, Beyond Earth, for 50% at only £14.99, or if you feel like a great shooter with an interesting story and characters then why not grab some of the Borderlands series. The original Borderlands (GOTY edition with all the DLC’s) is only £4.99 (75% off) while Borderlands 2 (GOTY edition) is £8.74  (75% off). The latest in the borderlands series, Borderlands the pre-sequel, is also included at £11.99 (60% off).

See a few games you like? Spend over £10 and add Darkness II to your cart to receive it for free. Good games, good deals, and great causes, what isn’t there to like about that!?

Check out the deals here.

Apple Store Manager Apologizes After Staff Accused of Racism in Shocking Video

Back in August, Tim Cook released a statement to Apple employees outlining the importance of diversity in the workforce. Shamefully, it seems the memo was never received by a security team in Australia. One member of staff was filmed ejecting 6 young schoolboys between the ages of 15 and 16. Supposedly, the staff member relayed information from the store’s security team and said they were:

“concerned about your presence in our store, worried that you might steal something.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CHftBRuSr8

The boys were apparently selected solely on the basis of colour, and a victim of racial stereotyping. Thankfully, the store manager has apologized. Additionally the apology has been accepted by the youths according to the BBC. One of the heckled individuals said:

“They apologised, so we’re chilling, no need to take it further,”  

Despite apologizing, this has damaged Apple’s reputation and raised questions about negative perceptions in society. It’s utterly ridiculous in 2015 to judge someone on the basis of their gender, race, or other personality traits. Clearly Apple, and other leading companies have a lot of work to do to educate their staff. Perhaps this is the wake up call these companies need to start tackling the unfair treatment of customers, and putting everyone on an equal playing field.

It’s quite depressing that this is still happening, and I’m doubtful that attitudes will dramatically change anytime soon.

Rogue Android App’s Nearly Impossible to Remove

I hate it when someone comes to me with a problem on their phone, “oh my phone is going slow”, “I can’t get on the internet” or something un-uniquely as annoying. The source? Normally full of random games or the odd easily removed malware app. It now turns out that those malware apps could actually turn out to be phone destroyers.

The newest strain of Android orientated malware applications are becoming some of the most unyielding to the usual rounds of anti-virus/ malware tools and require more physical measures such as seeking out professional help or completely replacing the device itself.

Cybersecurity firm Lookout has researched into the subject and revealed more than twenty thousand (20,000) of the world’s most popular app’s such as Candy Crush have been plagiarised to carry the malware. There is no warning of the malware being installed, nor will the owner know it’s there until it’s too late.

“Malicious actors behind these families repackage and inject malicious code into thousands of popular applications found in Google Play, and then later publish them to third-party app stores. Indeed, we believe many of these apps are actually fully-functional, providing their usual services, in addition to the malicious code that roots the device.” – Lookout blog

The largest source is from websites and lesser known App Stores that require you to install from unknown sources.

Personally, I have installed a few app’s that have required you to install from unknown sources that are completely legitimate, mainly popular bingo app’s that do not have an official Google Play entry. If you are unsure of the authenticity of the app you are downloading, avoid and download from registered and monitored sources.

Want to keep yourself safe? Check out these Free Google Play Anti-Malware apps.

Malwarebytes, Avast Antivirus, AVG Antivirus, and many more here.

CableMod Opens Direct Online EU Store for Modding Fans

Building a new PC system can be a very easy task if you don’t care much about how it looks in the end. But a lot of people do care and they want a perfect system where everything matches in colour and has the best possible setup with the components in use.

One thing that is boring and can destroy the looks of a great system are the default cables from your power supply. Adding sleeved and coloured cables to your setup can give it that final touch that lets you say, I’m happy with this build. It can also create envy among friends whose systems don’t look as great. Getting hold of professional-sleeved cables got a lot easier now for residents of the EU as CableMod just opened up their own online store that caters to just this market.

Initially, CableMod will be offering the newly announced Basic Cable Kits and more products will be added to shop when they become available in the near future. The first 12 available kits can be had for AXi/HXi/RM, G2/P2, PRO Series Black Edition, RMi/RMx, and XP2/XP3, KM3, FL2 models.

Have you sleeved your own cables in your system or bought a pre-sleeved kit like these? Or are you one of those satisfied with the default cables that came with your power supply? Let us know in the comments.

One Plus 2 Equals Malware?

Well, yes, sort of, before I am lambasted for inserting a clickbate headline, let me explain, OnePlus 2 Smartphone’s have been somewhat of a revelation since its launch, from a repairable part design to more than decent specs which place it handily within the price point market. This all sounds exciting, the problem lies with the Chinese companies marketing that rely on the same notion of an invite-based system which has been utilized within this incarnation.

This rather convoluted purchase agreement has led to the synonymous and wide-spread unavailability which has befallen many consumers. Consumers are an interesting bunch, if a particular TV series or gadget is difficult to obtain, the next best thing is to locate said device through alternative means, this is what many people did after hearing that KSP, Israel’s largest digital store, would be in fact selling the phone without an invite.

Great, many paying consumers thought, the only downside lay with the unfortunate realization that the phone also came bundled with malware. The annoying process masqueraded in the form which utilizes Google Chrome while using the device. “Using said browser would automatically redirect to other sites with the word tracking in them or a site called global.mytracker, before giving permission to access the website requested”.

After further investigation, it turns out there were four potential threats which were found after running, yes we want your data to sell AVG. Honestly, you don’t know which is worse considering an Anti Virus which purports to safeguard your digital identity is also caught offering your browsing history to ad companies, kudos John Williamson at eTeknix for analysing this story. It has also become apparent that users in the US are also being screwed after purchasing this phone through an online retailer by the name Gearbest.

The solution is to undertake an entire operating system reinstall with the aim of banishing the malware. There are suspicions of third-party outlets injecting dodgy operating processes and apps within the phone, rather than an outright deception by the manufacturer who have warned against purchasing the device through other means.

As a tech fan I am finding the relentless pursuit of nefarious attacks against consumers rather wearying, any individual should have confidence in the retailer and also the product without the fear of a virus or malware. If you’re interested in this smartphone, then only buy from official channels and be careful of any deals which sound too good to be true.

Thank you geektime for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of frandroid

Huawei Honor 7 Smartphone Now Only £209.99 For a Limited Time

The Huawei Honor 7 is an astonishingly powerful mid-range handset and legitimate alternative to the highly-acclaimed One Plus 2. This particular device features a 1920×1080 5.2-inch IPS screen with a pixel density of 424 ppi, Quad-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53 and quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, 3GB RAM, 16GB ROM and HiSilicon Kirin 935 GPU. Unlike the One Plus 2, the Honor 7 contains NFC functionality, a microSD slot allowing up to 128GB of storage and a 20MP 5152×3888 rear camera.

Additionally, the camera’s phase detection autofocus and dual-tone flash works to improve image clarity in low-light conditions. The front camera is relatively impressive for the price-point and adopts an 8MP sensor. This is more than enough to capture high-quality selfie shots or sudden action photographs. In terms of video capabilities, the handset can record up to 1080p at 30fps using HDR. According to the press release, the Non-removable Li-Po 3100 mAh battery provides up to 48 hours of battery life. However, I highly doubt normal usage involving social media communication, video watching and other tasks makes the battery last more than 12 hours.

Perhaps the most glaring concern surrounding the Honor 7 is its software package. By default, the OS is a heavily modified version of Android 5.0 and not 5.1. Furthermore, Hauwei’s previous devices like the Honor 6 haven’t been updated and still running Android 4.4.2.

On a more positive note, the mobile has a fingerprint reader on the back where you usually rest your index finger. This means you can unlock the device extremely quickly as the sensor detects your fingerprint in under a second. Also, the build quality on the Honor 7 feels surprisingly premium for such an affordable mobile and uses a metallic body.

At £249.99, the Honor 7 is very good value-for-money but in a similar price range to the One Plus 2. Although, getting hold of a One Plus 2 is an impressive feat due to a long waiting list. To tempt users into purchasing the Honor 7, there is a promotional discount available between the 27th-31st which brings down the price to £209.99. When using the checkout, enter the code, “H7BRAVE40UK” to apply the discount. While the device has some flaws, there are very few alternatives which offer the specification, 24-month warranty and build quality near £200.

In the coming days, we are hoping to receive a sample to conduct a detailed review.

Smartphone Wi-Fi Will Be Smarter Than Ever Before With This New Tech

Up until now, Wi-Fi devices on your smartphones were able to connect to saved access points and act as a means of connecting you to the Internet. Sure, there are some apps that let you stream over Wi-Fi, but essentially it was not used to its full potential.

The Wi-Fi Alliance now came up with a new technology by the name of Wi-Fi Aware, which lets your smartphone do even more with its wireless power. The tech is said to allow your smartphone to communicate with nearby devices and exchange information. Think of it as a heartbeat, letting devices know it is present in the vicinity and gathering what other devices have to ‘say’ if they are near you.

Wi-Fi Aware is an alternative to low-powered Bluetooth connectivity and yes, this means it’s even better at saving power than just having your Wi-Fi always on. So how can this help you? It’s simple. Let’s say you have something you like on Facebook and can find in a store. Once you enter a mall and a store has the items you want on sale, Wi-Fi Aware will send you a notification about it once you get near the store. Have a friend you haven’t seen in a long time? No problem. If he is in town and near you, Wi-Fi Aware will tell you and ask if you would like to send him a direct message.

Essentially, Wi-Fi Aware is a smart way of keeping aware of what is near and of interest to you. This means that all information received is tailored to you specifically based on your interests, so it won’t tell you about what shoes are on sale early in the morning when all you want to know is where you can get the best deal on coffee.

We are not aware of any Wi-Fi Aware-enabled apps at the moment, but Wi-Fi Alliance officials say that the tech could land in social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn sooner than expected.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Hex Gear Launches Enthusiast Class R40 Chassis

Hex Gear are a completely brand new entry into the case market opting for stylish and reliable construction on a small form factor. The Hex Gear R40 is a mATX case featuring 4 extruded premium aluminium panels, 3 2.5″ Drive Bays, 2 3.5″ Drive Bays and 5 PCI expansion slots. Furthermore, the R40 offers huge watercooling capabilities via three separate compartments. The main chamber accommodates either a 360mm radiator or 240mm up to 40mm thickness while the top and bottom section manages to fit coolers at a maximum of 34mm. There are also 6 x 120mm fan mounts which provides stunning cooling options for such a compact chassis. Surprisingly, there is ample room for larger aftermarket heatsinks and it has a lot of flexibility compared to other mATX cases.

Retailing for £199, the R40 is built to an impeccable standard and only utilizes the highest grade materials. It is also a modder’s dream and requires assembly on delivery. Even the sheet metal adopts a flat structure which allows for a fantastic degree of customization. Here at eTeknix, we were absolutely thrilled with this case and thoroughly recommend it. While it is a considered purchase, the quality construction and subtle yet beautiful styling make it a perfect companion alongside a high-end compact build.

Tech Specs:

– Materials: Aluminium | Steel | Acrylic
– Colours Available: Black | White
– Dimensions(WxDxH): 241.5 x 483 x 415
– Motherboard form factor: mATX
– 3.5” Drives: 2
– 2.5” Drives: 3
– Cooling: 6 x 120mm (3 x top 1 x rear 2 x bottom)
– PCI Slots: 5
– Suitable for air or watercooling

CONTENTS

– Screws and fixings
– 1 x black vandal switch
– Motherboard standoffs
– Instruction manual
– Hex keys
– 90deg IEC adapter

The store is now officially open and you can buy your very own R40 chassis from them here.

On a personal note, myself and everyone at the eTeknix team would like to congratulate Hex Gear as they are personal friends of ours and we think they’ve done an amazing job.

Say Goodbye to Metro Skype App

Microsoft says that the Metro version of Skype is not that popular and it won’t continue with it. All users will be moved over to the Desktop version next month, having the Metro service close on the 7th of July. That’s in less than a month now, so wouldn’t an earlier heads up be nice?

Even so, Microsoft says that it wouldn’t make sense to have two apps delivering the same service on its latest operating system, namely Windows 10, since both Desktop and Metro apps will now open and interact in the same way. They say that while Skype for desktop is made for keyboard and mouse use, it does very well with touch input too.

While Metro Skype will redirect everyone to download the Desktop version of Skype after the 7th of July, Windows RT users will still be able to use the Metro version until upgrading to Windows 10.

We heard that Microsoft is planning on integrating the Skype feature in the latest Windows build, but we don’t know what it will include exactly. ZDNet states that Microsoft is also planning on releasing a dedicated Skype bundle. This means a new and improved Skype Messaging, Phone and Video service will be rolling out in the near future.

The exact release date of the new Skype bundle is not yet clear, but rumour has it that Microsoft plans to make it available to existing Windows 10 users sometime this fall. So what do you want to see in the new version of Skype? Let us know!

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information

Valve Has Just Made Its Steam Hardware Available for Pre-Order

Valve and its partners have just announced that the Steam Hardware will be made available shortly for anyone who wishes to pre-order them. Though the hardware will roll out this fall in North America and Europe, fans may reserve their gear starting today. Aside from Steam, customers can head over to GameStop, EB Games, Micromania, and GAME UK to check out if the manufacturers have made their offerings available for pre-order and if not, they will be doing that shortly.

US customers will be able to pre-order the Steam Machine, Steam Link, and Steam Controller from either Steam or GameStop starting today and will get them after the 16th of October, which is a few weeks ahead of the official release on the 10th of November. GameStop, EB Games, Micromania, and GAME UK will also join the pre-order deal in Europe and Canada, but offering only the Steam Link and Steam Controller at first.

Word is that GameStop, EB Games, and Micromania have already started accepting pre-orders for Steam Hardware in more than 5,700 worldwide retail stores and even CyberPower started taking pre-orders for their Steam Machine directly from their website. The prices for a Steam Machine range from $499 and can even go up to $4,999.99, while the Steam Link and Steam Controller is said to be priced at $49. If you wish to get familiar with what hardware is available, head on over to Steam’s hardware section or the appropriate manufacturers’ website.

Steam Is Now Able to Give You Refunds for Your Digital Purchases

I know you had at least one game that you didn’t like playing after you bought it or is just simply full of bugs and glitches. Valve surprisingly started to understand the frustrations and is now offering refunds for any Steam purchases. But you want to know the best part? Well, you can get a refund for almost any given reason!

Of course, this does not mean you will be able to abuse the system, but it does really seem like a nice way of not having any regrets for buying a crap game. You can now just ask for your money back. However, there are certain conditions, but they don’t seem too much from my point of view.

Valve said that you can receive refunds within 14 days of purchasing a game which you did not play for more than 2 hours. This of course makes sense since you can’t really say you haven’t enjoyed a game you played for 24 hours straight after you bought it. But this also does not mean you can ask for refunds over and over again.

Also, if you pre-ordered a game months before it gets a release, don’t worry. Valve said it will apply the 14 days and 2 hours game time conditions after the title is released, not from the moment you pre-ordered it. The company has more details about how its refund system works over here.

Microsoft’s Band Gadget Finally Lands on the UK Market

Having a desk job is extremely stressing and messes with your body, this is why doctors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes workout per day. This helps relieve stress and keep you in shape both physically and mentally. But why not track your activity and health with the latest fitness and health bands on the market?

If you are living in the UK and wanted the Microsoft Band, the company appears to have started to offer it for a price tag of £169.99. The band seems to help keep track of activities such as heart rate, sun exposure, stress levels, calories burned and quality of sleep.

The Band connects to any iOS, Android or Windows Phone device via its companion app and offers customizable workouts. Whether you want to burn a lot of calories or just want to have a balanced diet, the Band and its app are available to help you with that.

Also, Microsoft’s gadget can be controlled with commands sent to Cortana, the company’s personal assistant and Siri’s rival. Is this why Cortana aims to arrive on the iOS and Android markets in the near future? Will Microsoft’s personal assistant squeeze its way into other mobile operating systems and offer integrated support in other applications too? We don’t have the answer for the latter questions, but time is bound to reveal the answer to that.

As far as the Band is concerned, you can order one from retailers such as Amazon, Harrods, Currys, O2 or even Microsoft’s Store itself. How do you find Microsoft’s health and fitness gadget? Are you planning on acquiring one yourself?

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information

Video courtesy of TheNextWeb and image courtesy of Digital Trends

Amazon’s New Prime Credit Card Offers 5% Cash Back

Amazon is rolling out a brand new store card that gives holders that are Prime members 5% cash back on eligible Amazon.com purchases. The card is different than the current popular Amazon Rewards Visa from Chase, which does not offer the 5% cash back.

The new Amazon.com store card also gives holders the options of 5% cash back in the form of statement credit or 0% financing on purchases more than $149. The store card does not have an annual fee, is backed by Synchrony Bank and comes with fraud protection for piece of mind.  The holder must have their own Prime membership to be eligible for the cash back, as being an invited guest on a Prime account will not count. This card will be a good choice for those users who use Amazon Prime frequently and pay off cards every month, as it does carry a 25.99% APR.  Signing up for the card and being approved will get you a free $40 gift card to make the deal even better.

The only items that are not eligible are “Amazon Prime memberships, digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions, games and software downloads“, as stated by Amazon.

Source: LifeHacker