Wednesday, December 30, 2015

IT News Head Lines (Techradar) 31/12/2015


Our first look at the new, foldable Google Glass
Our first look at the new, foldable Google Glass
After much speculation over what the next Google Glass will look like, to include some wacky-looking potential designs, images of Google's upcoming wearable have finally surfaced.
A recent filing with the Federal Communications Commission shows off a new Google Glass setup, rumored to be the Enterprise Edition.
Designed primarily for use in the workplace over the previous, more consumer-minded Explorer Edition, the Enterprise Edition sports a more durable build and appears to fold like a normal pair of glasses.
A larger viewing prism also appears to be present, as well as a magnetic port for an attachable battery casing. 9to5 reports that the new Glass build is also waterproof, sports an improved battery life, and 5 GHz WiFi connectivity to handle uploading all those first-person videos shot with the front-facing camera.
According to the FCC's report, the power button has also been relocated to the back of the device, which is yet another improvement over the original Explorer's design.
While the upgrades seen on the Enterprise Edition are a big step up, this version is reportedly intended exclusively for Google's "Glass for Work" program, in which the wearable will be used by businesses for work solutions.
This means that the design may not be representative of a "true" Google Glass 2, and it's still unclear if Google plans to make a consumer version.
While Google has yet to officially recognize the Enterprise's existence despite the FCC's reveal, we have confidence more news on the product and what's in store for Project Aura will appear in good time.
Top Image Credit: 9to5 Google

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In depth: Here are 5 consumer tech innovations that won 2015
In depth: Here are 5 consumer tech innovations that won 2015
Each year brings more innovation than the last - such is the nature of technology - but that doesn't mean we can't look back at some of the more groundbreaking technologies that have paved the way for the future.
From new smartphones to new cars, there were a number of cutting-edge products in the past year worthy of praise. While there are plenty of great innovations I can't discuss for fear of writing a book instead of an article, these are five of the most important consumer tech innovations of 2015, ones that will have lasting effects on their categories and will influence innovation well into the New Year.

Microsoft HoloLens

Virtual and augmented reality are on the way up - there's no denying that. But while Oculus is working to make gaming more immersive and Google is rethinking Glass, Microsoft came up with a product that looks truly spectacular - HoloLens.
HoloLens is one of the first headsets that doesn't require wire tethering to a computer or other device. While it instantly captured imaginations when it was first unveiled, many were skeptical about whether it could actually perform what Microsoft was suggesting it could. The "aha moment" for me, however, came when Microsoft first showed what it's like to play Minecraft on the HoloLens. It really seemed to take gaming to a new, interactive level, allowing users to experience the game within their real world, wherever they were.
The AR viewer, however, goes beyond gaming. Some, including our own Michelle Fitzsimmons and Duncan Bell, see the headset as the future of computing. Not only does HoloLens bring a computer to wherever the user wants one to be, it also creates an environment around the data, a feature that could end up being instrumental in the future of education, medicine and product development, to name a few.
While the HoloLens seems like it could pave the way for the future of computing, it does have a few issues that need to be resolved. It's still glitchy and has a fairly narrow field-of-view compared to what some were expecting. It also has some issues when it comes to fitting and staying snug on users heads. Despite these issues, it's certainly possible that Microsoft will resolve them before the consumer launch of the device. The HoloLens release is marked as "early 2016" - right when virtual reality headsets Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR are slated for their own releases. Those headsets are unique in their own right, but HoloLens may prove to be the most innovative of them all.
iPhone 6S

iPhone 6S

I swear: any other year I probably wouldn't have featured the latest iPhone on this list. While every new iPhone carries its own hype, it's arguable whether more recent releases are really, truly groundbreaking. However, I contend the iPhone 6S is the most innovative iPhone since the original one of 2007. Why, you may ask? Because of 3D Touch.
For the iPhone 6S, Apple has imagined a totally new way for users to interact with their smartphones, allowing them to input a set of commands simply based on how hard they press on the display.
Here's how it works: the 6S includes sensors that detect the distance between the display cover glass and the display backlight. The cover glass is slightly flexible, meaning that when a user presses down with some pressure, it bends a little. These measurements are tiny - in fact, you would be forgiven for not noticing any difference between the display in the iPhone 6S and the iPhone 6. But trust me, there is.
Just how important is this? Well, most major smartphone manufacturers are expected to have their own version of 3D Touch within the next year, with many of them likely to unveil it in phones at MWC 2016 in February.
While the technology is cutting edge, many app developers still need to work it into their software. This could be slow going until Apple incorporates the technology into its iPad lineup and other smartphone manufacturers release their own versions of 3D Touch. Still, 3D Touch offers developers a completely new control mechanisms to play with, and it could be especially useful in mobile gaming.
Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

Legend has it that whenever Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk thinks of a new product, it will be the coolest thing on the planet (or so I've heard). That's so far been generally true, and between PayPal, the Hyperloop, the Falcon 9 rocket, and the Model S, we've seen some pretty groundbreaking technology from Musk and his companies.
This year, one of Musk's most notable releases was the Tesla Model X, a new family-sized, all-electric car complete with falcon wing doors and a high level of safety.
Those falcon wing doors allow car riders to open them in extremely tight spaces. The doors are also big, so drivers and passengers can easily access the second and third rows of seats - perfect for families who might need to strap in a young child.
The Model X is cutting-edge in a number of ways, not least of which being that it's the first all-electric SUV. Larger cars are often associated with higher emissions, but the Model X proves that not only does this not have to be true, but also that drivers don't have to sacrifice power by buying electric. In fact, the Model X is so powerful, that it's the first tow-capable electric car, and while it's towing will probably reduce the vehicle's range and power, that it can handle towing is a big step forward.
According to Tesla, the Model X is also the world's cleanest SUV, and even has a "biohazard" button, which activates the air filtration system and is said to offer "medical-grade" air through this system.
Tesla wasn't just shaking up the car industry when it came to creating the first electric SUV. Safety was also a big concern in developing this vehicle, and it paid off: the Model X won five stars in every car safety-rating category. There's only a 6.5% chance of injury in a high-speed collision for drivers of the Model X, which are some reassuring odds.
The Tesla Model X comes in two models - the 90D and the P90D. The 90D can go from 0 to 60 mph (97kph) in only 3.7 seconds and has a range of 257 miles, or 413 km. It costs $132,000 (about £89,036, AU$182,608). The P90D, however, is the fastest accelerating SUV in the world, and comes equipped with the same Ludicrous Mode found in the Model S. This will get you from 0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds. It costs $142,000 (about £95,781, AU$196,442).
USB type-c

USB Type-C

Sure, USB Type-C was developed before 2015, but this was the year the standard finally took off, replacing others as the faster and slimmer option for your favorite devices. It also means you'll never try to plug in your USB device the wrong way again.
While it's important to note that USB-C itself is simply a shape, the majority of companies implementing it will also use USB 3.1 - the standard that USB-C is most often associated. USB 3.1 offers much faster data speeds than its predecessors (up to 10Gbps), which is more than enough to transfer 4K movies in a matter of seconds from one device to another.
Not only that, but USB Type-C also brings much faster charging speeds than USB 3.0 and 2.0. Whereas older standards will have you wait hours for a full charge, the new USB Power Delivery specification that is most often used in USB-C enables the delivery of up to 100 Watts, meaning your device will juice up much more quickly than it did before. Not only that, but the new connector supports two-way charging, meaning you can connect one USB-C supported phone, and one phone will charge the other.
Apple adopted USB-C in the new MacBook, a computer that only has one port for charging, data transfer, and more. Users can purchase a dongle to create more ports, but the writing's on the wall: we are shifting to cloud storage solutions like Google Drive rather than external hard drives, and we're using Bluetooth mouses and keyboards rather than wired ones. We don't need as many ports and wires as we used to, especially if we want more portable devices, and USB-C is facilitating this change. Smartphones, too, are starting to ship with USB-C, such as the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X from Google.
If you don't already own a device with USB-C, expect your next smartphone to house the technology. Unless, of course, you're an iPhone user, in which case you'll most likely still be stuck on Apple's Lightning cable.
Windows 10

Windows 10

Windows 8.1 earned back some of the consumer trust that was lost after Windows 8, but Windows 10 is like a full redemption.
The operating system (we never did get Windows 9) adds a number of great features to enhance the usability of Windows. For example, taking a page from Apple's book, it finally included virtual desktops, which seriously improves the multitasking capabilities of Windows-based computers.
Another innovative feature in Windows 10 is the addition of Universal Apps. While the original idea was first introduced in Windows 8, Windows 10 takes it to the next level, essentially meaning that there is one store, one app package, and one API set across all Windows 10 platforms - phones, tablets, computers, and even Xbox One. This bridges the gap between mobile and desktop devices and blurs the line between operating systems; users can even plug their Windows 10 Mobile phone into an external display to use it as a full desktop computer.
It's easy to imagine Google doing the same and merging Android and Chrome OS (though that won't happen anytime soon). It's more of a stretch to see Apple going that far with iOS and OS X, but it certainly could happen if Universal Apps catch on.
Other Windows 10 features include the evolution of the Start menu, incorporating features from the Metro UI in Windows 8, and the addition of Cortana, bringing a desktop personal assistant to the masses.
But it's perhaps that Windows 10 is so much more fully featured than Windows 8.1 that makes it groundbreaking. Most operating system upgrades are incremental, and though they add new features and fixes, Microsoft went all out with Windows 10.

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Spotify is in hot water with a $150 million lawsuit
Spotify is in hot water with a $150 million lawsuit
A hefty class-action lawsuit has been filed against Spotify, seeking over $150 million in damages from the music streaming service.
The lawsuit is spearheaded by David Lowery, frontman of the band Cracker, who is joined by over 100 other artists who claim Spotify knowingly plays copyrighted materials without proper licensing.
According to a report in Billboard, the complaints claim that Spotify's failure to obtain permission before distributing music to its 75 million active users "creates substantial harm and injury to the copyright holders, and diminishes the integrity of the works."
Lowery, in particular, is suing over what he alleges to be illegal reproductions and hosting of his songs while with the band Cracker, such as "King of Bakersfield," "Almond Grove," and "Tonight I Cross The Border."
This isn't the only case of copyright complaints on Spotify's hands, as it is currently in talks with the National Music Publishers Association following a similar beef over licensing issues.
Spotify, in response to earlier claims, released an official statement last week detailing the hurdles it faces in paying artists their due compensation.
"We've paid well more than $3 billion in royalties to date, including $300 million in the first quarter of this year alone," the blog post said. "Unfortunately, when it comes to publishing and songwriting royalties [...] that's easier said than done because the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rightsholder is often missing, wrong, or incomplete."
Spotify also stated that they set aside funding for owed royalties that haven't yet made it to their rightsholder. While this fund supposedly exists for those in the same boat as Lowery, Spotify explains that "the royalties we have set aside amount to a fraction of one percent of all the royalties we have paid."
Spotify has publicly admitted fault in the past when it comes to obtaining licenses, and while that information may not pan out well in court, the company has been working to rebuild how the music industry licences tracks to that artists can be compensated both easier and faster.

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In-Depth: iPhone 6S vs iPhone 6: the in-depth test
In-Depth: iPhone 6S vs iPhone 6: the in-depth test

iPhone 6S vs iPhone 6: which is right for you?

Update: if you feel the need to see the two phones working against one another in a lovely moving set of pictures, then we've got a treat for you with our new, in-depth test of two of Apple's newer handsets.
We tested battery run down, camera prowess and speed, so you can decide once and for all which is for you below:
YouTube :
With a much-improved design and the necessary upgrade to the battery, the iPhone 6 was one of the phones of 2014. Apple needed a big hit, and it got it.
However there was always the worry about 2015's model - whispers that Apple might skip the 'S' model and go straight for the iPhone 7 were sadly unfounded and we got the predictable slight upgrade with the iPhone 6S.
But Apple tried to convince us differently, using the tagline: 'The only thing that's changed is everything'.
Well, except the battery life, design, interface - but there were big improvements to the camera and additional features like 3D Touch and Live Photos that aren't available anywhere other than on the newer 6S models - so are they enough of an upgrade?

Speed and performance

One of the big changes Apple makes every year is to add another number to its processor, and this year the A9, unsurprisingly, whips the butt of last year's A8. We're talking 70% faster in general use, and 90% more powerful when it comes to graphical prowess.
But we're getting to the point now where such upgrades are slightly irrelevant, right? Our phones are now more powerful than our computers were a few years ago, and they're supposed to last well over a day on a sliver of battery.
As you can see in the video at the top of the page, the iPhone 6S annihilates the 6 for general app opening and closing, and if you think how often you do that daily, those seconds will really start to mount up.
Let's take a gander at the benchmarks: the iPhone 6S scored over 4400 on the GeekBench 3 test, where the iPhone 6 could only muster a paltry 2902.
That's more powerful than the iPad Air 2 and closing in on the Galaxy S6 clan - known as the most powerful smartphones on the market.
Make no mistake: the iPhone 6S is a hugely powerful phone that's capable of running some impressively graphically intensive games. If you want to future proof yourself for the next two years, go for the newer model.


Aesthetically, you're not going to miss much by sticking with the iPhone 6. That's not to say the iPhone 6S isn't a good looking phone - it is, in fact it's gorgeous - but it also looks almost identical to iPhone 6.
iPhone 6S vs iPhone 6
They both have a slim metal unibody with curved edges, but there is a slight difference in dimensions and weight, with the iPhone 6S coming in at 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm and 143g, while the iPhone 6 is slightly slimmer and lighter at 138.1 x 67 x 6.9mm and 129g.
The iPhone 6S is also stronger, as it uses a 7000 Series aluminium alloy, which should help avoid a repeat of BendGate.
Both phones come in space grey and silver, but Apple has added gold and rose gold options into the mix with the iPhone 6S, so if one of those is your shade of choice you're out of luck with last year's model.
You'll really struggle to feel the difference in the hand, but if you're comforted by the extra strength, then the iPhone 6S is your friend. But if you want the lightest and thinnest model, the older model will suit your needs nicely.


Both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6S have 4.7-inch 1334 x 750 screens, but Apple claims it's used the strongest glass in the industry for the iPhone 6S. We still wouldn't drop it though.
You'll really struggle to feel the difference in the hand, but if you're comforted by the extra strength, then the iPhone 6S is your friend. But if you want the lightest and thinnest model, the older model will suit your needs nicely.iPhone 6S
Quite honestly, 3D Touch is probably the number one reason you should be thinking of picking up the iPhone 6S. The new method of interacting with your phone could be as pivotal as the first time you used multi-touch, and we're inclined to agree.
It's worth noting that at this point it only works with native Apple apps - Mail, Messages, Safari etc. - and often will do as much as a long press would. The ability to 'pop' into the app is the differentiator, as when you get used to it you'll find that you save oodles of time.
Beyond that though, the two displays are identical. Both could still do with a touch more effort in the deepness of the blacks, and the sharpness of the screen is falling woefully behind the competition.
They look great though if you don't peer too closely - and the extra strong glass Apple's cooked up doesn't seem to have had an effect on sensitivity or the brightness.
Want to see how 3D Touch works? Check out our video just below for a full look at the new screen tech.
YouTube :


Let's kick off with the rear-facing camera. You'd expect that with 12MP on offer pictures would appear sharp, clean and full of more color.
However, there's an issue that all camera manufacturers come up against: packing in more pixels makes it harder to capture bright and clean photos.
HTC tried to go the other way and use a 4MP sensor (dubbed UltraPixel) with the aim of capturing better, brighter and cleaner pictures, but it couldn't convince the public that fewer megapixels were a good thing.
It feels a bit like Apple's bowed to the pressure to bring a higher number sensor to the 6S, and the odd thing is it really doesn't perform any differently to the 8MP one on the iPhone 6.
Camera samplesiPhone 6S vs
Odd for a couple of reasons: firstly, why bother if the results are going to be virtually similar? You can see in the following samples that there's very little difference between the two.
Secondly, it's impressive that Apple has actually managed to improve low light performance in the 12MP sensor on the iPhone 6S. If you look at the rabbit picture, you can see the new sensor is slightly ahead in information absorbed, and that's something we didn't expect.

The front facing 'selfie' camera is just simply a cut above. The Retina flash, which boosts the screen to three times its normal brightness to illuminate your face, works pretty well and gives you options for photos where there were none before.
The extra sharpness is also much, much better - in short, if you're a selfie fiend, there's no question.
Here's a quick look at the iPhone 6S camera and its 4K video capabilities.
YouTube :

Camera samples

iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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iPhone 6S review
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Now here's an odd thing: the iPhone 6S has worse battery life than last year's iPhone 6. It makes sense when you drill into it: the old phone had a 1810 mAh battery pack, and the new iPhone only comes with a 1715mAh option.
There are multiple reasons for the smaller battery pack: a larger motor needed for the 3D Touch interface, and the extra space needed for the pressure sensor.
Now here's an odd thing: the iPhone 6S has worse battery life than last year's iPhone 6. It makes sense when you drill into it: the old phone had a 1810 mAh battery pack, and the new iPhone only comes with a 1715mAh option.There are multiple reasons for the smaller battery pack: a larger motor needed for the 3D Touch interface, and the extra space needed for the pressure sensor.But the bad news is that this doesn't get offset by efficiency improvements in the upgraded iOS 9 - the iPhone 6S performs worse in our battery tests.For the Full HD 90 minute video test (at full brightness) the new iPhone dropped 30%, compared to only 26% for the older model.iPhone 6S
But the bad news is that this doesn't get offset by efficiency improvements in the upgraded iOS 9 - the iPhone 6S performs worse in our battery tests.
For the Full HD 90 minute video test (at full brightness) the new iPhone dropped 30%, compared to only 26% for the older model.
Given battery life was already a concern for iPhone users, bringing out a new phone with a shorter time between charges is criminal.

Price and availability

The iPhone 6 has been out for a year, so it's readily available from numerous stores including Apple's own shops and website, where it's dropped to £459, US$549 or AU$929.
The iPhone 6S has been out for a few months now, but costs quite a bit more than the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6S starts at £539, US$649 or AU$1,079. That isn't likely to drop down until we see the iPhone 7 release either.


iPhone 6S
If you're stuck on the iPhone 5 or 5S, then you've got a conundrum here. The iPhone 6S has loads of great upgrades, with 3D Touch easily being the pick of the bunch. Its 12MP camera does offer a slight jump forward, and you'll at least get half an hour's joy out of Live Photos.
However, there's the issue of price. The new phone is a lot more expensive, and with a similar camera, same chassis and a lower battery life could make you think twice about the older iPhone 6 - or perhaps wait another year for the iPhone 7.
The iPhone 6S Plus - especially if you're after a better battery life - might well be worth a look if price is less of a worry for you, but either way you've got a bit of a conundrum if you're ready to upgrade your iPhone.

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Roundup: The highs and lows for Apple in 2015
Roundup: The highs and lows for Apple in 2015

The highs

The "Apple is doomed!" crowd must be feeling pretty tired by now; Apple's had yet another record-breaking year, hoovering up most of the smartphone industry's profits and selling ever more Macs.
But while Apple had a great 2015 in many ways, not everything went its way. Here are Apple's highs and lows for 2015.

High: Money, money, money

By various estimates Apple made between 87% and 92% of all the profits in the smartphone industry this year. While Android firms compete with razor-thin profit margins, Apple makes stacks of cash on every smartphone it sells. The iPhone remains the engine room of Apple, and it's the most significant product Apple currently offers: it accounts for more than 60% of Apple sales.

Low: Bugs

The iPad Pro shipped with a bug that crashed it when you connected a charger. iOS 9 had various bugs affecting email, iMessage, notifications and mobile data. The initial launch of El Capitan had more bugs than an episode of I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! And some third party apps struggled to even run on watchOS when it first launched.
Some bugs are inevitable, of course, but Apple software is beginning to develop the same reputation for reliability as the Windows of old.

High: More Macs

The PC business is a pretty miserable business to be in these days, with most firms selling PCs with microscopic margins and some, like Toshiba, deciding that the PC business isn't a business they want to be in any more. The most recent research from industry analysts Gartner says that worldwide PC shipments dropped 7.7% in the third quarter of 2015 compared to the previous year.
Guess who's the exception? In the most recent financial quarter Apple sales grew yet again, with Mac sales up 1.5% globally and US shipments up 7.3% over the previous year. With average selling prices of around $1,258 per Mac compared to $129 for an Atom-powered PC or $399 to $499 for mid-range PCs, those Macs are generating a disproportionately large amount of money.

Low: Slow iPads

It turns out that iPads have more in common with PCs than they do with phones, in terms of replacement at least: while we're all quick to rush for the newest smartphone, we tend not to replace iPads anywhere near as quickly. That, and the growing numbers of us using big-screened devices such as the iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus, means that iPad sales are slowing significantly.
They're still doing huge numbers and it's hardly a sign that Apple is doomed, but it shows that not everything can have the stratospheric success of the iPhone.

High: Apple Watch

It may be flawed - more of that in a moment - but the Apple Watch is doing awfully well for what some people will tell you is a "flop": with an estimated 7 million watches shipped between its launch and early November and big numbers expected over Christmas, the Watch is already a multi-billion dollar business. That's more than every other smartwatch's sales combined. According to analysts at Canalys, the next best-selling watches come from Samsung with 300,000 shipments and Pebble with 200,000.

Low: Apple Watch

We have a love/hate relationship with the Watch: it's a beautiful, very clever and potentially very useful device, but it's also hopelessly unreliable. Despite watchOS 2.0's improvements third party apps often refuse to run, Siri often ignores us and sometimes we have to tap the screen multiple times just to wake it up. The third version will be fantastic, we're sure, but all too often the Watch just lets us down.

High: The iPad Pro

It may be too pricey for most, but the iPad Pro is an important product: it's taking the iPad into serious work, whether that's in creative industries with the Apple Pencil or in the enterprise as part of Apple's partnership with IBM. It's also a sign of what's coming: the A9X processor in the iPad Pro might not rival a recent Core i5 or Core i7, but it's faster than the chip in the most recent MacBook. With desktop-class performance coming from Apple's own silicon, Intel-free Macs are clearly a case of when, not if.

Low: The Hump

Are the doom-mongers so desperate that they'll seize on a crappy battery case to prove that Apple is in trouble? Oh yeah - but they have a point. Apple's new Smart Battery Case is part of a wider trend that suggests Apple doesn't always think things through. The Magic Mouse 2 has its charging socket on the bottom, so you can't use it while charging.
The Apple Pencil sticks out of the iPad Pro to charge, which looks ugly and precarious. Apple Music's UI is awful. Then again, the Apple of old brought out white elephants such as the iPod Hi-Fi and the fantastically uncomfortable hockey puck mouse, so maybe we're just looking at Apple's history through rose-tinted spectacles.

High: China

The world's biggest economy is a huge revenue generator for Apple, and it plans to build on its existing successes by launching Apple Pay in China in 2016. China is already Apple's second largest market (the US is the largest), but its market share is still relatively small - so even though the Chinese economy appears to be slowing, there's still an enormous opportunity to grow market share and profits.

Low: Apple Music

If Apple Music was a beautiful, but under-used, country spa retreat, it would have been knocked down for an out of town shopping mall by now. The UI of Apple Music is fantastically confusing - we can't be the only ones who'll pick a song and then spend ten minutes trying to work out how to find the rest of the album - and the artist social network Connect is like a ghost town. Music boss Jimmy Iovine's daft, sexist comments about women finding it hard to find music didn't help either. And don't get us started on iTunes.

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Updated: Learn to program your Raspberry Pi
Updated: Learn to program your Raspberry Pi

Introduction and starting from scratch

Note: Our learn to program your Raspberry Pi tutorial has been fully updated. This feature was first published in May 2013.
In this tutorial, we're going back to the original idea behind the Raspberry Pi – namely, teaching people about technology. Over the course of this article, you'll get a whistle-stop tour of two programming languages that are included in Raspbian, the recommended distribution for the Pi.
If you don't have a Pi, then you can still follow along if you're running Linux – you'll just need to install the programming languages through your distro's package manager. Don't worry if you haven't programmed anything before. We're going to start, quite literally, from Scratch.

Starting from Scratch

Scratch is a great language for learning the basics of programming without having to worry about getting the text perfect. Since everything's done by dragging and dropping program blocks into your script, you don't need to remember any commands.
We're going to make a simple drawing program that lets you use the arrow keys to trace lines onto the screen. The first thing we need to do is create the code that lets us move the cat sprite around the screen.
We'll use three separate blocks, each of which is executed when a key is pressed. Click the yellowControl button, then drag and drop When Space Key Pressed into the scripts. This creates a script that runs whenever the user presses the space key. Use the dropdown to change Space to Right Arrow, click the blue Motion button and drag Move 10 steps under it. This will let you move the cat forward by pressing the right arrow.
Next, create similar scripts that turn clockwise when the down key is pressed, and anti-clockwise when up is pressed. Check out figure 1 below to see how it should look.
Now we can move around, we need to add a block that lets us draw. We don't want to draw all the time, so we will use Scratch's pen up and pen down actions. When the pen is down, the cat leaves a line behind it when it moves; when it's up, it doesn't.
Pi Figure 1

Using variables

In order to let us toggle between having the pen up and down, we need the code to remember which state it's in. Programs use variables to do this.
A variable is a chunk of memory that you can put data in, and read data from. Before you can use a variable, you have to tell the computer to assign memory to it. We also give it a name that we can use to refer to it in commands.
Pi Fig 2
Go to Variables, click on Make a Variable and give it a name. Once this is done, you will see a selection of commands that alter or use the variable. Now we have a way of storing data, we need to tell the computer to vary its behaviour depending on what the variable is.
We do this using an If… Else block. This asks if a statement is true. If it is, it executes the first block of code, otherwise it executes the second.
Pi Fig 3
In our program, we'll take our variable, pen. If it's 0, we'll put the pen down, then set it to be 1, otherwise, we'll lift the pen up and set it to be 0. In this way, we can toggle between the two states using the spacebar. Take a look at figure 3 to see how this should be set up.
Note the use of the operator = in the If statement. This means the first block of code is run only if the variable pen contains (equals) 0 otherwise (else) it runs the second block.
Pi Fig 4

Introducing loops

You can now move the cat around and draw a picture, but wouldn't it be nice if you could insert predefined items, for example circles? We'll add these next. Well, technically we'll add a 24-sided shape that looks pretty close to a circle.
The method to do this is move forward 10, then rotate 15 degrees, then move forward 10, then rotate 15 degrees, and keep doing this until you've completed the circle. You could put in the same two lines 24 times, and it would work, but it wouldn't be very good. It would look ugly, take a while to do, and if you decided you wanted to change the size of the circle, you'd have to do it 24 times.
Instead, we'll use a loop. This is a block that repeats itself. There are different types of loop; some keep going until some statement becomes false (a bit like an If command that gets repeated over and over again), but the one we'll use executes a set number of times.
Inside the loop, we just need the two commands: move forward 10 and rotate 15. Take a look at figure 4 above for details.
Congratulations – you've just completed your first Scratch program! The project file is on the Linux Format DVD, and available from
Programming isn't an end in itself, but a method for getting computers to do your bidding; and now you've got started with Scratch, the only limit is your imagination. You could create the next killer game, a new productivity app or something so futuristic we don't even have a name for it yet.
To get your mind started dreaming up projects, here are a few of our favourites from around the web (if you've got Flash installed, you can run them in your web browser):
  • Super Mario Galaxy: Run around the world, picking up stars
  • Wipeout: Based on the TV show. The graphics are dubious, but the gameplay is fun
  • Space War 4: Old-fashioned vertical scrolling space shooter
  • Snake Chamber: Learn about genetics and breed snakes!
  • Day Dream: Scratch is also a great tool for creating animations



Scratch is great for learning the basics of programming, but sooner or later you're going to run into its limitations. Now we're going to take a look at a popular general-purpose language, Python.
The first thing you need to know about Python is that, unlike Scratch, it's entirely text-based. This doesn't mean that it can't create graphics, but that the program code is text rather than drag-and-drop blocks.
Your Pi ships with IDLE – a Python development environment – that allows you to input commands. It includes a handy help() command that can help you with your syntax, and also comes with its own built-in text editor, with colour-coded syntax and automatic placing of indents, to help with your programming.
Note: because Python's code is text based, you can use any text editor to create a program – Leafpad comes with the Pi, for example. Geany is another popular choice with new Python programmers. Avoid the use of word processors such as LibreOffice Writer, however, because they mess up the formatting and prevent your program from functioning correctly.
Python 1
Okay, open the Pi menu and choose Programming > Python 3. This is the command line, but we want IDLE's text editor, so choose File > New to create a new blank document. On the first line, add:
This line, rather cryptically called a 'shebang', tells the system to use the program python, in the folder /usr/bin/ to run the file. You'll need to add it to the start of all your Python programs. We can now get onto the guts of programming.
There's a long-standing computing tradition of having your first program output "Hello World!", and we're not going to break it here. Leave the second line blank (not strictly necessary, but it makes your code easier to read), and on the third type: print "Hello World!" and save your work in a file called
To run the program, you need to open a terminal and navigate to where you saved the file (your home folder by default). First, type the following command to tell the system the file is executable:
$ chmod a+x
Next, type this command to run your program:
$ ./
You should see Hello World! appear on the screen. This shows us that the system is running properly, but it's not a very useful program.
As with the Scratch project, we'll add some user input. However, with Python we'll need to add a variable to store what the user types. Delete the Hello World line (leaving just the shebang), and add the line:
name = raw_input('what is your name? ')
This line creates the variable name, displays the prompt 'What is your name? ', and stores what the user types in name. We have to enclose this in inverted commas so that the computer knows it's a single chunk of text. We can then use this variable to make our print statement a little more personal with the line:
print 'Hello', name
Since the computer will run the commands in order, this one needs to be below the previous one. If they are the other way round, the program will throw up an error because we are using a variable before we have created it. You can now save the file, and enter ./ at the command line to run the program.

Decisions decisions

This makes the program a little more functional, but it's still pretty lifeless. It just follows the same two steps, then finishes. To make it useful, we need to add a decision step, where the computer looks at the input, and performs different actions depending on what it finds.
Remember the If block in Scratch? Well, we can use the same thing here. The basic structure of the block is:
if :
code block

must be replaced with anything that can be true or false. For example, 1 > 2, or more usefully, num > 2 where num is a variable. In our case, we'll check if the name entered is a particular value:
if name == 'Ben' :
Why ==? Well, computers (and programmers for that matter) don't deal well with ambiguity. Each symbol or word we use should have precisely one meaning, otherwise things get confusing. = is used to assign a value to a variable, so we need to use something else to check equality. Again, we have to encloseBen in inverted commas so the computer knows it's text. The colon tells it that we've finished our expression and we're about to tell it what to do.
We may want this If command to run more than one line of code, so we need a way to group code into blocks. In Python, this is done using indents (Python is more-or-less unique in this respect, and this method is a bone of contention to Python-haters). Indents can be a space or a tab, but it's really important that you always use the same throughout your project, otherwise it can get horribly confusing, since it doesn't go on the amount of indentation, but the number of indents.
Personally, we recommend using two spaces for each indent, because that's the way we were taught, and we're too stubborn to change – IDLE attempts to insert these automatically for you.
So, what do we want the computer to do if name == 'Ben'? Well, obviously, we want it to greet him in the appropriate manner:
if name == 'Ben' :
print "Ben, you're awesome"

Note the two spaces at the start of the second line. Note how we use double speech marks. This is because the text we're enclosing has an apostrophe in it. We don't want to be rude to other people, so we'll add an else block that runs whenever the if expression is false:
else :
print 'Hello', name

One last feature we'll add to our program is a loop. This will work much like the one we added to our Scratch program, except that it won't only run 24 times, it'll keep running until we tell it to stop.
We do this using a while loop and the syntax:
while :
code block

We can tell the program to stop by entering the name quit. So, our while loop will be:
while name != 'quit' :
Python 2

Solving problems

Don't ask us why, but exclamation marks are often used to mean not in programming. But this still leaves us with a bit of a problem. If we put it before name = raw_input… then it will produce an error, saying it doesn't know what name is. If we put it after, it will only ask us to enter a name once, then keep spitting out its greeting indefinitely.
To solve this, we can simply assign the empty string to name before while. This stops it erroring, and will always trigger the while expression. So, our little program now looks like this:

name = ''

while name != 'quit' :
name = raw_input('What is your name? ')

if name == 'Ben' :
print "Ben, you're awesome"
else :
print 'Hello', name

Note the four spaces before each print line. This is because they're indented twice – once for the whileloop and once for the if statement. You can save this as, as before, and run it with ./

Where to go now?

If you've followed this tutorial and enjoyed writing your first programs, then you may be wondering what to do next. Well, both Scratch and Python are great languages to get started with, so first you have to pick the one that appealed the most to you.
If it was Scratch, the best place to start is at Here, you'll find loads of projects that other people have done that you can take a look at, along with video tutorials and tours to help you learn the environment.
Python is a far more popular language in the real world, so you'll find many more resources to help you learn. The official website has a tutorial, which explains the language well, but can be a bit dry. There are a number of excellent books on the subject (such as Dive into Python, which can been read for free at
Subscribers to Linux Format can access more Python tutorials via the archives at, where you'll also find our Code Concepts series, which helps introduce the key ideas behind programming.

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Samsung is about to unleash unbelievably thin and light Skylake Ultrabooks
Samsung is about to unleash unbelievably thin and light Skylake Ultrabooks
Details of Samsung's upcoming laptops for next year have been spilled online ahead of a likely CES reveal next week.
And these new notebooks are incredibly thin and light offerings, at least according to the marketing details from South Korea which were published by Liliputing. Indeed, the 13.3-inch Samsung 900X3L apparently weighs just 1.9lb (that's around 860g – way lighter than even an 11-inch MacBook Air) and is half an inch thick (around 13mm).
Now that's what we call seriously portable…
There will also be a 15-inch flavour weighing in at 2.9lb (1.3kg), with a thickness of 0.6-inches (15mm).
There will reportedly be at least six different models, and all of these laptops will be powered by Skylake processors (unsurprisingly), and they will of course run Windows 10.
The base models will start with 4GB of RAM stepping up to 8GB of RAM for the other offerings in the range, with 128GB SSDs on board for storage in most cases (the one exception being the top-of-the-line 13.3-inch model, the NT900X3L-K78L, which will have a 256GB SSD).
1920 x 1080 full HD resolution displays will also be the order of the day, although one model will apparently carry a higher resolution screen (and doubtless a higher price tag, too). That's the NT900X3K-K36 which will boast a 3200 x 1800 pixel 13.3-inch display, and it will also have a chunkier battery, metal chassis, and the screen will fold back 180 degrees.
As mentioned, we'll doubtless get the full details from the Consumer Electronics Show next week.
As we reported recently, Samsung also has an 8-inch tablet in the pipeline, and this is going to be a budget affair which will arrive at some stage likely early next year.
Image: Liliputing

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The 10 best games of 2015
The 10 best games of 2015

The ten best games of 2015

Best games of 2015
It's been a big year for games as PS4 and Xbox One both started showing their true colours when it comes to triple A titles. And big is the key word with huge open world behemoths coming out at regular intervals throughout the year that just asked you to leave your job and life far behind.
But what stood out? Which games weren't just biggest but also the best? This is our definitive collection of the superior games of the year. And no, this isn't necessarily in numbered order so feel free to rearrange as you see fit.

Fallout 4

Best games of 2015
Platform: PC / Xbox One / PS4
Who knew the apocalypse could be this good? Even if you've spent thirty or forty hours in Fallout 4's Wasteland, chances are you'll still feel like you haven't seen anything yet. This is a game so overwhelmingly immersive that spotting a kirby grip in real life will immediately send you thinking about how useful that would be for that hidden safe you just discovered.
The Commonwealth is staggeringly huge and give the sheer amount of collectibles for crafting, weapons to mod, relationships to forge, settlements to defend and game to play Fallout 4 is an incredible achievement that we just can't put down.
Game of 2015? It's so big it might just be 2016's too.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Best games of 2015
Platform: PC / Xbox One / PS4
Still addicted to Gwent? You're not alone. CD Projekt Red's action RPG took the world by storm this year with its staggeringly huge open world and seemingly endless activities. Plus, Geralt's sword swinging, magic packed quest is also beautiful enough to have you constantly reaching for the screenshot button.
CD Projekt Red even threw in an incredible 16 free DLC packs post release which makes us want to hug the studio even more. It makes 2015's pile of shame a daunting task but that's exactly how it should be.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Best games of 2015
Platform: PC / Xbox One / PS4 / PS3 / Xbox 360
Oh what's that you say? Just Hideo Kojima's final Metal Gear game? After a convoluted development process and the drama of Kojima's name actually disappearing from the box art at one point, The Phantom Pain is a multilayered extravaganza of stealth.
While it's divided Metal Gear fans, there's no denying the sheer richness of the world with its ever-changing and often brutally challenging missions. Add in soundtracking the whole thing with your own 80s hits, taking D-Dog along for the ride and building your own zoo by attaching Fulton balloons to animals and there will never be another game like MGS 5.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Best games of 2015
Platform: PC / Xbox One / PS4
Criminally good fun, this slice of Templar stabbing action has double the hidden blades with twin Assassins Jacob and Evie Frye. A genuinely entertaining story means that the beautiful recreation of Victorian London isn't the only star of the show as the pair take over the city with their gang, The Rooks.
Plus, if you thought the AC franchise needed to be more like GTA, good news, you can hijack vehicles and cause chaos in police chases across good old London town. Add in the rope launcher for Batman-style rooftop getaways and Syndicate is the most fun the series has had in years.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Best games of 2015
Platform: PC (nominally...) / Xbox One / PS4 / Mac
Rocksteady's finale to its Arkham trilogy delivers all of Gotham instead of just the tantalising chunks of both Asylum and City and as such is a Batfan's dream. The Dark Knight's home city is an incredible and beautiful open world, best taken in from the skies as you grapple and soar effortlessly from skyscraper to skyscraper.
While the Batmobile is a sticking point for many, given Rocksteady's insistence on using its tank like abilities, there is so much to enjoy in the seamless bone crunching combat and a rollicking narrative.

Until Dawn

Best games of 2015
Platform: PS4
A surprise highlight of 2015, the Hayden Panettiere starring Until Dawn is every schlocky 90s horror you've ever loved. Because nothing will happen on a snowy mountain with no phone reception on the year's anniversary of their friends going missing, a group of teenagers get together in a cabin. It's not spoiling anything to say that they won't all be alive in the morning.
The joy of Until Dawn - other than it's brilliantly awful horror teen speak - is the Butterfly effect. Decisions made early in the game can truly affect the future and how many teens are sliced and diced is entirely up to you. Beautiful graphics and genuine tension make this a horror that's not to be missed.


Best games of 2015
Platform: PS4
Want your games punishing, gruelling but utterly compelling? FromSoftware's twisted gothic actioner ticks all of those gory boxes with a flourish. This PS4 exclusive is both a dream and a nightmare depending on how you look at it. Demon and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki has crafted a beautiful and deadly world that you just can't help but want to explore.
Disturbing enemies await at every turn in the twisted realm of Yharnam but nothing ever feels as though it's cheating. You die? You learn and do it again but this time get it right. Welcome to terrifying gaming zen.

The Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Best games of 2015
Platform: Xbox One
We'll try to stay neutral on the fact that one of the games of the year has sent fans into fury over a PlayStation icon becoming a temporary Xbox One exclusive. However, Ms Croft's latest is a staggeringly beautiful and deadly adventure for the explorer as she takes the next steps to becoming the ultimate raider of all things tomb shaped.
Stealth, puzzling, platforming and shooting are all juggled effortlessly as Lara hunts down an ancient maguffin which is predictably on someone else's Christmas list. Add in more tombs to pilfer through and plenty of gory death possibilities and this will be predictably another game of the year in 2016 when it releases on PC and PS4.

Life Is Strange

Best games of 2015
Platform: PC / Xbox One / PS4 / PS3 / Xbox 360
This isn't the only episodic highlight of the year, with Telltale's Tales From The Borderlands shining through as a brilliant example of the genre, but Dontnod Entertainment's teenage time turner is a cut above the rest. Passionate photography student Max discovers that she has the power to rewind time and… that's all we're saying to avoid spoilers.
Life Is Strange takes a whole host of hard hitting teenage issues head on with panache and while the script isn't always quite Whedon enough, there's so much to admire here. Plus, time bending adds a ludicrous extra level of paranoia to every single choice you make.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Best games of 2015
Platform: PC / PS4 / Xbox One
The Force is strong in this one. Exceptionally so. DICE's slavish recreation of the Star Wars universe is so rich that you'll find yourself totally distracted by Ewoks on Endor when you really should be focussing on hunting down Storm Troopers.
Stunning visuals and sound effects fully immerse you in a galaxy far, far away and there's nothing like taking down an AT-ATs with your Rebel friends. The shooting isn't the most advanced, with a focus on everyone being able to pick up and play, but when it comes to a true Star Wars experience, nothing feels quite like this.

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How to get gaming on Windows 10
How to get gaming on Windows 10

Get gaming on Windows 10

How to get gaming on Windows 10
Microsoft has returned to Windows gaming with a vengeance in Windows 10. It's upgraded DirectX to version 12, which finally allows it to talk to your graphics card using more than one processor core.
This means future games supporting DirectX 12 (as well as current games updated to support it) will run much quicker and be more responsive.
Other improvements centre around the new Xbox app, designed to link your PC with your Xbox for streaming games, reviewing your gaming history and staying in touch with your mates on the Xbox live platform.
You can even use it as a remote control for your Xbox One's media content. These new features are all well and good, but there are a few steps you should follow to make sure Windows 10 is set up for gaming heaven – read on to find out what you need to know.

1. Upgrade drivers

How to get gaming on Windows 10
Windows 10 won't necessarily have the latest drivers for your setup – it's usually better to install chipset and graphics drivers direct from the manufacturer, such as NVIDIA or AMD for graphics.
Trouble tracking down the latest drivers for your PC? Try a program like Driver Booster Free to see if it can track them down.

2. Connect controllers

How to get gaming on Windows 10
Plug in your game controller if you haven't already – it should be automatically detected and drivers downloaded and installed. Once done, type controllers into the Search box and click 'Set up USB game controllers'.
Click 'Advanced' to choose which controller to use with older programs, and 'Properties' to verify your controller is working correctly (and calibrate it if not).

3. Check compatibility

How to get gaming on Windows 10
If you've upgraded to Windows 10, check to see if any previously installed games still work – if they don't, visit the game's website to see if a compatibility patch is available or other tips for getting the game to work can be found (for example, using Compatibility Mode – right-click the program shortcut and choose 'Properties > Compatibility' to set this up).

4. Get Steam

How to get gaming on Windows 10
If you're a Steam user, visit and click 'Install Steam'. Download and install the main program, then log in with your account (you'll need to enter a code emailed to you to verify this computer).
Once logged in, right-click the program's new taskbar notification area icon to download and restore previously purchased games or access your library.

5. Make Steam your gaming centre

How to get gaming on Windows 10
You can add games you've installed independently of Steam to your library, making it your one-stop shop for gaming in Windows 10. To do this, visit your Library page, click '+ Add a Game…' and choose 'Add a Non-Steam Game'.
Steam will list all installed programs on your PC, so it's up to you to identify your games and tick them, then click 'Add Selected Programs'.

6. Replacing missing Windows games

How to get gaming on Windows 10
Windows 10 removes the free Microsoft games like Solitaire and Minesweeper. Instead, you can download free ad-supported versions from the App Store (ads can be removed by buying a subscription).
Free alternatives include 123 Free Solitaire – use a website such as to help you find them.

7. Go Xbox

How to get gaming on Windows 10
Windows 10 introduces a new app called Xbox, which it hopes will eclipse Steam for gaming. Log in with your Microsoft Account if necessary, then follow the prompts to set up your Xbox account.
Once done, use the icons down the left-hand side to navigate the app, customise your profile, manage your games and even connect Windows to your Xbox One console.

8. Game DVR

How to get gaming on Windows 10
When playing a game in windowed mode (not full-screen), press [Win]+[G] to open the Game bar. From here you can take screen snaps and – if your graphics card supports it – record live footage of your gaming, which you can then organise, rewatch and share with others in the main Xbox app.
Configure Game DVR via its own tab in the Xbox app's Settings screen.

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Intel reveals new Skylake and Broadwell CPUs with a difference
Intel reveals new Skylake and Broadwell CPUs with a difference
Intel has revealed a number of new CPUs of the desktop and mobile variety, with both Skylake and Broadwell processors being added to the company's official line-up.
What's interesting about these models – eight in total have been added to the firm's roster – is that they have rather different model numbers, indicating that they will be an unusual or niche spin on Intel's processor technology.
For example, the two new desktop processors are the Intel Core i3-6098P and the i5-6402P. As CPU World reports, the 'P' is likely to indicate that these are bereft of an integrated graphics solution (at least this was the case previously when Intel used this suffix).
The i3 model will be a dual-core CPU (with four threads) running at a base clock of 3.6GHz with 3MB cache, priced at $117 (around £79, AU$160). As for the i5 offering, that will be a quad-core model running at 2.8GHz with 6MB cache, with pricing set at $182 (around £122, AU$250).
On the mobile front, Intel is also introducing the Celeron 3855U and 3955U, ultra-low voltage dual-core processors which sip power and run at a clock speed of 1.6GHz and 2GHz respectively, both being priced at $107 (around £72, AU$147).
And at the more expensive end of the mobile spectrum, there's a pair of new Core i5 offerings (5200DU, 6198DU) and a pair of i7 CPUs (5500DU and 6498DU). These are all dual-core chips running at from 2.2GHz to 2.5GHz, the price pitched at $281 (around £199, AU$385) for the former, and $393 (around £265, AU$540) for the latter i7 processors.
As to what the 'D' stands for in these model numbers, that's not clear at this point.
There has been quite a lot of excitement around Skylake's overclocking potential, and indeed recently we've seen that even non-'K' (i.e. locked) desktop processors can be ramped up with some serious overclocking.
That means the good old days of buying a budget processor, sticking on a serious cooling solution and speeding it up massively are back – at least if you have a motherboard which has been updated with a workaround to get past Intel's restrictions (such as one from Asrock).

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Samsung's wearable chip wants to tell you how fat you really are
Samsung's wearable chip wants to tell you how fat you really are
It might not sound like the most exciting thing to come out over Christmas, but Samsung's new bio-processor chip for wearables could actually make a big difference this year.
The chip can handle an impressive number of sensors, meaning it can provide a much larger picture of your body's health throughout the day.
Not only that, but the brand believes that it's managed to shrink the footprint of the chip down to 25% the size of using all the discrete parts together, which could mean really miniature wearables this year.
The official run down of sensor capabilities is: bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), photoplethysmogram (PPG), electrocardiogram (ECG), skin temperature, and galvanic skin response (GSR).
In real terms, it can test your body fat on the go, check your heart rate and rhythm, see how warm you are and monitor your stress levels.

I'm so excited

The last one is actually one of the more interesting of the line-up – while it sounds GSR monitoring will only give you access to how hard your boss is pushing you, in actual fact it really measures 'excitement' levels.
Imagine you're on a run and you suddenly get an energy spurt and decide to start going faster, adrenaline pouring into every muscle and making you feel like you're flying for a brief moment.
A wearable that can measure GSR could register that response in your skin's chemical reading and then change the track you're listening to for something that's faster paced and more uplifting.
It's unclear whether Samsung's bio-processing chip could handle such a task, but it would be awesome if 2016 heralded the start of such a movement in wearable tech.
Sadly there aren't any devices using the new processor just yet – nor a release date - although Samsung has released 'reference platforms' including a wrist band, patch and, oddly, 'board' to show off what it can do.

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5 ways Microsoft can own 2016
5 ways Microsoft can own 2016

2015: a year to remember

When the definitive Microsoft timeline is finally crafted, 2015 will join 1975, 1985, 1995, and 2001 in the lineup of years that get bold, magenta fonts and pithy explainer text.
There's no doubt this was a standout year for the venerable Redmond-based outfit. Windows 10 and the Surface Book, among other milestones, put solid ground underneath a company that, over the past few years anyway, seemed to have lost its footing.
But for all its 2015 success, Microsoft still had its share of problems. PC market share continued to drop; Windows Phone looked more and more like the Betamax of devices; and many consumers reported that the Surface Book crashed if you looked at it funny. If Microsoft wants a great 2016, these issues need to be addressed.
And with both Apple and Samsung poised to deliver new iterations of their flagship devices, there will be plenty of competition for positive attention next year too. Here are five ways Microsoft can continue its 2015 momentum and own 2016.

1. Don't phone it in

As reviews and, more importantly, sales have shown, 2015's Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL are not setting the smartphone world on fire. In fact, they aren't even toasting it. Windows Phone's market share is in the single digits. Microsoft has found success with operating systems, tablets, and now laptops, but that big smartphone win remains elusive.
Rather than beating the same old Nokia drum, Microsoft needs something new – and the decision-makers in Redmond are finally acknowledging this.
Panos Panay and his Surface team have been given the task of revamping Windows Phone. Few should be surprised by this move. After all, Panay has already revitalized Microsoft's presence in the tablet/laptop space with the Surface Pro and Surface Book. If anyone can find Microsoft's smartphone unicorn, it's Panay.
This new "Surface phone" (or as some are calling it, "Panos's phone") is set to launch in the second half of 2016. Details are scarce. But the Surface phone only really needs to do one thing to stand out in this iPhone dominated world: be the computer that fits in a pocket.
If Windows Phone could truly be that: a phone that runs Windows 10 and all its apps, then Microsoft may have a device that is not only innovative but market grabbing as well.

2. Truly mobilize Windows 10

Microsoft didn't help its smartphone cause when it announced its delay of Windows 10 Mobile. Furthermore, the new target date the tech giant gave isn't even specific. It's just "early next year."
Further delays of Microsoft's mobile OS could not only jeopardize the "Windows 10 on 1 billion devices" promise, it could also have disastrous effects on its smartphone strategy.
That's because Windows Phone is relying on Windows 10's universal apps functionality to bring in developers. Without a robust app ecosystem, Windows Phone will remain largely irrelevant.
A Panos Panay Surface phone won't be enough: if Microsoft wants to take the 2016 smartphone crown, it needs to make sure Windows 10 Mobile is rolled out on time – and on all its Windows Phones.

3. The platform for all must talk to all

Thanks to its 110 million (at least) downloads, Windows 10's launch was a success. But part of that success can be credited to it its friendly price tag: Windows 10 was (and is) a free upgrade for current Windows users. But when the free upgrade ends next year in July, so could 10's rapid adoption rate.
Windows 10 can maintain its momentum by delivering on its loftiest promise: Continuum. Allowing users to "hand off" tasks, like email, from one device to another is not necessarily new – Apple already offers this with OS X's Continuity – but Windows 10 will (in theory) take it a step further by connecting desktop and mobile into one seamless experience.
Obviously this has yet to be realized. The rumor mill, however, has hinted that Microsoft is implementing its Continuum features in 2016's Window 10 update, codenamed Redstone. "Windows 10.1" is exactly what the Redmond company needs to keep their flagship product humming.
Unfortunately Microsoft also has a penchant for delays (see Windows 10 Mobile.) If Redstone is delayed to 2017, or worse, and it doesn't include the Continuum features, then many users may not see a reason to adopt the suddenly not cheap 2016 version of Windows 10.

4. Get deeper with Surface Book

Surface Book took 2015 by storm, re-energizing the large screen device space not just for Microsoft, but for the tech industry as a whole.
What then can Panos Panay's design team do to make 2016's inevitable Surface Book 2 an enticing iteration? The Redmond engineers shouldn't have to dwell long on this: there's plenty of room for improvement with the Surface Book.
Firstly, the next iteration should be a completely stable platform. The first Surface Book reportedly suffers from battery draining, slow boot times and system crashes. Many proverbial potholes have been filled, but even with the fixes, for many, the Microsoft 2-in-1 is still not a smooth ride.
Secondly, the next Surface Book needs the rolling pin treatment. The first generation's "muscle wire" hinge may be strong and easy to use, but its bulge is far from flattering. If the Redmond engineers can figure out how to flatten the Surface Book 2, it will be 2016's gold standard 2-in-1.

5. Make augmented reality and enterprise reality

Virtual reality, augmented reality, lawnmower man reality – whatever it may be called, Microsoft is falling behind the new reality curve. Samsung's consumer grade VR add-on is already on the market, Oculus is shipping Rift kits to developers and Google Glass is…trying again.
That being said, Microsoft is not completely out of the loop (ahem, Apple.) Redmond showed off its "augmented reality" device, the HoloLens, at E3 and other tech events this year and kits for it will be released to developers in 2016. However, even in its infant state, the HoloLens is receiving some strong criticism.
The current version of HoloLens suffers from a narrow field of view and seemingly low-tech, translucent visuals.
Its development kits also carry a high price tag: $3,000. Many feel the price will restrict the pool of developers, but Microsoft may view this as a good thing – a kind of developer pre-screen. After all, it views the HoloLens as an enterprise-first tool. It wants high-end developers, not guy-in-the-garage types.
If HoloLens is indeed an enterprise device, Microsoft needs to do a better job of selling it that way. Minecraft and kill-aliens-in-the-living-room demos are great at creating consumer buzz, but "fun diversions" probably aren't enticing the average CFO.
Appealing to the enterprise is a smart move; other VR/AR manufacturers seem wholly focused on the consumer market. But take one look at the HoloLens marketing so far and you'd guess it was a consumer-first product as well. If Microsoft wants to set its device apart, the 2016 demos need to feature suits instead of a guy in a zip up hoodie, and productivity apps instead of laser-armed critters.
Otherwise the HoloLens may finish 2016 looking like the also-ran device and not the enterprise world-beater Microsoft wants it to be. Along with an app-heavy Windows Phone, a stable, beautiful Surface Book, and a universal Windows 10, Microsoft needs a strong reality augmenter to make its 2016 win a reality.

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BMW is bringing gesture-based car controls to CES 2016
BMW is bringing gesture-based car controls to CES 2016
BMW announced that it will show off a new gesture-based interface at CES 2016 that will allow drivers to control certain features of their vehicle with a simple swipe of their hand.
The technology, dubbed AirTouch, allows functions such as music playback, navigation and phone communication to be controlled with hand gestures.
AirTouch uses a group of sensors located between the car console and interior mirror to ensure hand motions can be read without needing to fumble with a smartphone or a built-in touchscreen, potentially taking a driver's eyes off the road
A special button located on the steering wheel helps speed up inputs when using AirTouch. While one hand makes the gestures to navigate though menus, the other hand confirms selections with the button, ensuring that the "touchless" system works quickly without having to take both hands off the wheel.
"AirTouch allows the display in a vehicle to be operated like a touchscreen without actually having to make contact with the surface," said BMW in an official release. "This allows the driver to focus all their concentration on the road ahead."
No stranger to gesture controls, AirTouch greatly expands on BMW's announcement at last year's CES, where the company showed off simpler, finger-based gestures for commands such as changing volume and taking calls.
While the finger-based control scheme ultimately became a feature on the BMW 7 Series, BMW claims that AirTouch takes "another big leap forward" by offering 3D controls and a wide, panoramic display.
While it remains to be seen exactly how AirTouch will work in practice, we can't wait for the big show in Las Vegas to get here so we can get behind the wheel and pretend to be in Minority Report.

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Updated: 25 Best Now TV shows: great Now TV shows available on Sky's streaming box
Updated: 25 Best Now TV shows: great Now TV shows available on Sky's streaming box

25 best Now TV shows

Wayward Pines
Now TV has been a revelation for Sky. It's arrival in 2012 meant a whole host of programmes that used to be strictly tethered to a satellite dish could be enjoyed without a contract. Now anyone can now enjoy Sky, as long as you have a broadband connection that can stream movies and TV shows.
The box is cheap – really cheap. You can get one for under around £20 and it comes with a (limited) free subscription to either the service's movies, sports or TV offerings.
Sky has also revealed a new Now TV box and monthly sports pass to entice you to take up its non-contract shenanigans.
We're here to tell you about the best Now TV shows available if you buy the monthly Entertainment Pass. Unlike Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video, Sky's shows tend to disappear a little quicker due to rights issues, but don't fear – we will keep this list of the best Now TV shows constantly updated so you always know what's available when you buy your monthly pass.
And if you don't fancy anything, don't forget to regularly check back as new content becomes available through the service.
Check out the rivals...
Best Amazon Prime Instant TV Shows: 25 to choose from
Best Netflix TV Shows: 25 of the best

1. 24

The Jack Bauer Power Hour was a revelation. when it first hit television screens back in 2001, debuting near to the attack on the World Trade Center, the show has always played on the spectre of real terrorist atrocities, but with a hyperreal edge that kept it firmly within the "entertainment" genre. A recent mini season - 24: Live Another Day - reinvigorated Kiefer Sutherland's portrayal of Bauer but it's unlikely we'll see the rogue agent on TV again. Even more reason, then, to get stuck into all nine seasons of the show.
Seasons on Now TV: 9

2. The Blacklist

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
James Spader. That name should be enough to get you watching The Blacklist. The actor – who recently lent his voice to Avengers: Age of Ultron – is fantastic in this show. Only an actor of his calibre could portray playfulness in a character who at his heart is a cold, sadistic megalomaniac. The premise is simple: Red (Spader), one of the FBI's Most Wanted, hands himself in with the caveat that he has information on hundreds of other criminals – information he uses to twist the FBI around his malicious little finger. While the supporting cast isn't quite up to Spader's magnificence, this is one of the most enjoyable shows on Sky at the moment.
Seasons on Now TV: 2

3. The Enfield Haunting

Enfield Haunting
There's jump scares aplenty in this adaptation of the 'true story' of a house in London in the Seventies that was subject of a vicious haunting. The cast is pitch perfect, with Timothy Spall as the sympathetic paranormal inspector and newcomer Eleanor Worthington-Cox as one of the children affected by the poltergeist. While the show doesn't scrimp on accusations that the hauntings were faked by the children, it does hit hard with its scares - think Paranormal Activity by way of EastEnders.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

4. Entourage

Forget the terrible movie, Entourage works best on the small screen and in small chunks. The show is a larger-than-life representation of what it is like to try and make it big in Hollywood and lives and dies by the group of characters it follows. Standout is Ari Gold, Jeremy Piven's funny but ever-irritating agent. Loosely based on the life of Mark Whalberg, this is great throwaway fun.
Seasons on Now TV: 8

5. Falling Skies

Falling Skies
Falling Skies is that rare show that never hit superstar status but was given time to breath by its network and even allowed to end on its own terms. Falling Skies starts after an alien attack has devastated the world. All that survives are a ragtag group of survivors who must live among the terror of the aliens that have invaded. Given there are a number of similarities to Waling Dead (swap out zombies for aliens). This is the perfect fix until the next season of the Undead arrives.
Seasons on Now TV: 5

6. Fortitude

The most expensive Sky show in history is also one of its most divisive. Many love the slow, snow-strewn plot that keeps you guessing right till the end but others were expecting something a bit more action packed - given much of the pre hype was all about polar bears versus humans. Take it as what it is meant to be, though - a crime drama in the Scandinavian mould, sprinkled with supernatural elements - and there is a lot to love. And anything with Michael Gambon as an angry drunk man will get our attention.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

7. Game of Thrones

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
The fantasy genre on television was floundering before Game of Thrones came along. Prised from the George RR Martin's towering tome, GoT is a masterpiece of storytelling. It's part Godfather (warring families, copious bloodshed), part Tolkien (freaking dragons), and it gets better with each season. This is the crown jewel for both Sky and HBO, and is now one of the biggest shows in the world, with a budget to match. The series is now at a crucial point, as the show's plots overtakes those in the books. Keeping avid readers sweet will be a tough challenge but for those who just know this world through the TV show, it makes for riveting television.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

8. Gomorrah

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
This look at the "other" Italian Mafia does not shirk from showing the grime and brutality of life in the Camorra crime syndicate. Based on the fascinating book by Roberto Saviano, Gomorrah shines a stark light on the corruption that permeates the Italian city of Naples – from the fashion outlets to the drug dens, everything is connected – while ensuring interesting characters still shine through. You can tell this is a TV show based on true stories. Let's just hope there's many more series to tell them properly.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

9. Hannibal

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
There's been a glut of cult movies made into TV shows (Fargo and Psycho are also now TV favourites), but Hannibal is the best there is. The most surreal show since Twin Peaks, Hannibal weaves the mythos of Hannibal Lector effortlessly with dream-like imagery and superb acting. While Hugh Dancy's Will Graham is a little one note, Mads Mikkelsen as Lector makes the character his own, complementing Anthony Hopkins' portrayal rather than making you pine for it. The third and unfortunately final season delves both into Hannibal's younger years and the exploits of the book Red Dragon – so there's no better time to catch this superb series.
Seasons on Now TV: 3

10. Hunderby

If you like your comedy dark then Hunderby isn't for you. If you like your comedy so black it becomes a vortex that sucks in all of time and space then Hunderby is for you. At its heart the show is a send up of period dramas, following the messed up lives of Helene and Edmund at the turn of the 19th Century. Filled with hilarious plot twists and grotesque characters, there's good reason its creator Julia Davis won a Bafta for the show - it's hilarious. Season 2 comprises two feature-length episodes and ups the macabre. Great stuff.
Seasons on Now TV: 2

11. Justified

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
Justified has never quite matched the critical heights of The Sopranos or The Wire, but it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. It's extraordinary television that centres on a marshal (the excellent Timothy Olyphant) who is sent back to his home town after getting a little trigger happy on the job. The show was used as a bit of an experiment by Sky – the sixth season was only shown on demand, alongside an archive of all the seasons. We don't know if it was a success but it does mean the whole show is available to watch through Now TV and that can only be a good thing.
Seasons on Now TV: 6

12. The Knick

the knick
When director Steven Soderbergh announced he was leaving the world of movies for television, we were a little worried that he had made the wrong choice. Then The Knick came along and completely floored us. Set in a hospital in New York in the early 1900s, the show centres on John Thackery (Clive Owen) a troubled surgeon who likes to try new and experimental ways to treat his patience, with sometimes dire consequences. This is television at its finest.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

13. The Leftovers

The Leftovers
The Leftovers is bleak. Like really bleak. It begins a little after a Rapture-like event, where a number of people in the world have simply vanished and focuses on the lives of those, well, leftover. Adapted for the screen by Lost's Damon Lindelhof, The Leftovers may have a similar Lost-like ensemble approach to its storytelling but that's where the similarities end. The Leftovers is much more real and while this takes time to getting used to it's more than worth it.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

14. Mad Dogs

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
Although this show suffers from diminishing returns – the third and fourth series aren't a patch on the first two – Mad Dogs is still one of the most entertaining British dramas in years. Centred on a group of childhood friends on a visit to one of their number who's made it big in Spain, the way the show twists and turns itself into a downward spiral is astonishing – as are some of the more surreal aspects of the story. Max Beesley, John Simm, Marc Warren and Phil Glenister are superb as the four mates who go through hell and back.
Seasons on Now TV: 4

15. Mad Men

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
After seven seasons of slow, brooding brilliance Mad Men is coming to a close. It's a show that needs to be seen by all. While it takes its time to unspool its narrative, the story of ad man Don Draper is one that's worth the wait. Creator Matthew Weiner – fresh from The Sopranos – mines great cultural events from the '60s and '70s to give Mad Men historical weight, but the show is at its best when it just focuses on its extremely flawed and brilliantly portrayed characters. Mad Men will be sorely missed, but at least it has been given the send off it so dearly deserves.
Seasons on Now TV: 7

16. Modern Family

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
Modern Family has been consistently hilarious for six seasons now, using The Simpsons' method of showing good ol' family values through, well, good ol' family dysfunction. Every episode hits the spot. The writing is Emmy award-winning and the acting too, even if the central idea that the Dunphy/Pritchett family is being filmed for a documentary wears a little thin after a while. This is one of Sky's biggest shows and for good reason, too.
Seasons on Now TV: 6

17. Moone Boy

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
Chris O'Dowd has never been better than in this fantastic sitcom, loosely based on his life in Ireland. He stars as Sean, the imaginary friend of Martin Moone, a kid growing up in the '80s. Filled with some fantastic comedy – mainly from Ian O'Reilly who plays Padraic in the show – and more heart and pathos than you would normally find in a 30-minute sitcom, Moone Boy is as good a coming-of-age tale as you will find anywhere.
Seasons on Now TV: 3

18. Penny Dreadful

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
The last time famous characters from Victorian gothic literature got together on the screen it was for the laughable adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Even the genius words of Alan Moore couldn't make that work. So, when Bond scribe John Logan announced he was doing a similar thing with Penny Dreadful, we were sceptical. But it really works. Everyone from Frankenstein's monster – who is finally as poetic as he is in the novel – to Dorian Gray have been given a revisionist spin that makes this series both scary and entertaining.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

19. Prison Break

prison break
When the whole plot of your TV show revolves around someone getting a massive back tattoo, your show deserves to fail. But Prison Break managed to rise above this rather silly plot point and deliver a series that was both entertaining and highly implausible. Wentworth Miller is the man sent into prison to help his innocent brother escape. If you don't try and poke holes in the plot, this high-concept drama will keep you entertained.
Seasons on Now TV: 4

20. Prisoners of War

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
Although this Israeli series was adapted into the US drama Homeland, the original remains the superior show. Where Homeland has one soldier coming back to the real world after captivity, Prisoners of War has three. Where Homeland pushes the action at the expense of the ideas, Prisoners explores how torture can change someone into something that they never thought they would become. Homeland lost its way after it stopped following Prisoners of War – which in itself shows how good this Israel-produced drama is.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

21. Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy
All seven seasons of the biker drama have hit Now TV - and the series could well be the biggest draw to the service yet. Charlie Huffman leads a cracking cast that tells the tale of Californian biker group, the Sons of Anarchy. Shakespearean in its drama, the show intertwines domestic drama with illegal goings on brilliantly and manages to bring sympathy to a ragtag group that doesn't really deserve it. The show has now ended, so what you get on Now TV is the complete, superb series.
Seasons on Now TV: 7

22. This is Jinsy

This is Jinsy
This Is Jinsy is a strange beast. It has the playfulness of the Mighty Boosh and characters akin to The League of Gentlemen and yet there is nothing like it on television at the moment. The surreal nature of the show - set on the fictional island of Jinsy - means that not all of the comedy hits but when it does it's superb. Guest stars seem to be scrabbling to be on it, too. With the likes of Jennifer Saunders and David Tennant already sewn into the world of Jinsy, expect more talent when it comes back for season 3.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

23. True Blood

True Blood
True Blood was a phenomenon when it first aired back in 2008. The tales of Sookie Stackhouse were Twilight-esque books but the show found gold in the idea of a town that learns to respect vampires. The show suited HBO's racier format, with gore and nudity aplomb but lost its way after season 5. Now TV has got all seven seasons, though, so at least you can see how the adventures of Sookie actually end.
Seasons on Now TV: 7

24. Wayward Pines

Wayward Pines
Based on the books by Blake Crouch, Wayward Pines is a Twin Peaks-lite show that houses a massive mystery. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) wakes up in the town Wayward Pines after a car crash - from the off, nothing is what it seems. Although not as fun as the books, the show has a stellar cast. Matt DIllon is great as Burke, while Melissa Leo is perfectly cast as the sinister Nurse Pam. Each episode goes at such a breakneck speed, you certainly won't be bored but it's sometimes hard to keep up.
Seasons on Now TV: 1

25. The West Wing

25 best Now TV shows: great series available on Sky's streaming box
Aaron Sorkin's stock as a screenwriter may be a little low at the moment, thanks to the saccharine nature of The Newsroom, but if you want to remember him at his best then The West Wing is for you. Not only does it have the best cast ever assembled for a television show – led by the fantastic Martin Sheen – it's also a series that has influenced many programmes since. A winner of 26 Emmys, The West Wing showed that network television can be just as good as cable TV. A must watch.
Seasons on Now TV: 7

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