Friday, September 30, 2016

Review: Updated: Google Apps for Work (G Suite) 2016 review

[Editor’s Note: What immediately follows is a rundown of the latest developments and features Google has added to Apps for Work (G Suite) since this review was first written.]


September 2016


  • Google has renamed Apps for Work as G Suite, which the company says better reflects the software’s mission in terms of putting the emphasis on real-time collaboration.

  • Docs, Sheets and Slides witnessed the introduction of a new Explore feature consisting of intelligent assistants that help you craft better documents.

  • A new Quick Access capability was brought to Google Drive. It uses machine learning to automatically surface files it thinks you’ll need next based on your usage patterns.

  • Google rolled out a new offer for users of its productivity suite, with a free 60-day trial of Chrome device management which is good for up to 10 devices.

  • Google Drive made searching easier with the introduction of natural language processing, meaning that you can phrase your search in everyday conversational terms.

  • Google announced a partnership with Box whereby the latter will be integrated with Google Docs, allowing users to edit documents directly from Box’s cloud storage.

August 2016


  • A new Google Hangouts Chrome extension was pushed out allowing for multiple chat windows to be incorporated into one, and making more chat content readily visible.

  • Google introduced a ‘Cast…’ function in the main menu of Chrome, and this can be used to share the contents of a browser tab – or the whole desktop – into a Hangout session.

  • Forms received a new feature which allows the insertion of images into surveys, so you can now do things like have a multiple choice question with pictures for answers.

  • The Android apps for Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides were improved to make it easier to create tables and better looking charts.

  • A couple of security tweaks were applied to Gmail, the most important of which is that the webmail service will now issue a warning about a link if it leads to a known malware site.

  • Inbox got integration with Trello and GitHub, so Trello users will receive a summary of what’s new with projects, and GitHub denizens will get a summary of code changes.

  • Google Drive’s preview feature was improved to make viewing previews of stored files a slicker experience, with a cleaner UI and better zoom functionality.

July 2016


  • Google introduced a new scheme to help train employees on its productivity suite, with the system designed to act like a ‘virtual coach’ to help users learn when IT staff aren’t around.

  • Google tweaked the Admin app for Android to let delegated admins (and not just super admins) use the software to access functions while out and about.

  • Google gave the Admin console some attention in terms of two-step verification, allowing admins to view the real-time status of where each user is in the 2SV enrolment process.

  • Apps for Work is apparently being muscled out by Microsoft’s Office 365, at least if sentiment from Redmond’s Worldwide Partner Conference is on the money.

  • Google launched the new Quizzes feature in the Forms app, designed to allow teachers to easily create and mark assessments for students.

June 2016


  • Google Springboard was announced, a search tool (currently being tested) that can be used to quickly find things across Google Apps, plus it makes proactive recommendations.

  • Google Sites got revamped with a new preview version boasting a simple drag-and-drop design which is more intuitive, and support for real-time collaboration was introduced.

  • A ‘new and notable’ section was introduced to the Google Apps Marketplace, in order to highlight the best third-party apps available to businesses.

  • The Android and iOS apps for Google Docs and Sheets gained the ability to edit content in Print layout view, and to edit existing conditional formatting rules in Sheets.

  • Google tweaked Docs, Sheets and Slides so notifications of comments made not only arrive via email, but you can also get a notification on your Android device or web browser.

May 2016


  • Google announced its new Spaces messaging app designed for small groups – but there’s no news as yet on when (or indeed whether) it will come to Apps for Work.

  • At Google I/O new APIs were introduced for Sheets, giving developers a “new level of access” to some of the most popular features in the app.

  • New APIs were also brought to Slides allowing developers to easily push data from other third-party apps into Slides for maximum convenience.

  • Google revealed that Android apps will be available for Chromebooks, and this opens up more productivity possibilities including using the Android version of Microsoft Word.

  • Google integrated its BigQuery service with Google Drive, allowing users to query files directly from Drive, and save query results from the BigQuery UI directly to Google Sheets.

  • Google Slides benefited from a new Q&A feature that lets audience members submit questions to the speaker directly from their mobile devices during a presentation.

  • The Synergyse service was fully integrated with Google Apps, a virtual assistant that helps train users in the various apps and was previously a Chrome extension.

  • Google Drive and Evernote were integrated, allowing Evernote users to seamlessly access any file on Drive.

April 2016


  • Google Apps for Work received two new certifications: ISO 27017 for cloud security and ISO 27018 for privacy.

  • A new ‘Find a Time’ feature arrived in Google Calendar for Android, allowing mobile users to find convenient times for meetings when they’re on the go.

  • Google’s scheme of providing Apps for free to medium-sized firms who want to migrate over but are locked into an Enterprise Agreement was extended until the end of 2016.

  • Reminders pitched up in the web version of Google Calendar, and said reminders will sync across browsers and mobile devices.

March 2016


  • The Google Admin app received bolstered mobile device management capabilities, allowing for admins to handle security breaches even when they’re out and about.

  • Research into the most-used business apps on the web ranked Google Apps for Work in fourth place – behind Office 365, Salesforce.com and Box.

  • Google launched its #maketime website, which aims to help you prioritise how you spend time during work hours, and highlight how Google Apps for Work can save you time.

  • Google expanded support for its Identity Platform to cover logins for far more third-party apps in the Google Apps Marketplace, including Office 365 and Facebook at Work.

  • A whole bunch of new templates were added to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

February 2016


  • Gmail’s existing Data Loss Prevention features got a boost with the addition of OCR for scanning attachments and additional predefined content detectors.

  • Google also gave Gmail the ability to flag email accounts that it deems ‘insecure’.

  • Google Docs was enhanced with voice typing, allowing users to dictate to their word processor, and also access editing and formatting commands.

  • Google Forms gained support for add-ons and the ability to edit Apps Scripts, plus work and education-related templates were introduced to the home screen.

  • The Gmail for Android app received support for rich text formatting, and an option for one-tap instant RSVPs was introduced.

January 2016


  • Instant comments were introduced to Google Docs, allowing users to click a simple icon to add an immediate comment to a document.

  • The ability to add comments arrived in the Sheets and Slides apps for both Android and iOS.

  • Google further bolstered the Sheets Android app with the ability to open and edit CSV and TSV files, along with additional files supported for import and export.

  • Google Calendar for Android and iOS apps was graced with smart suggestions that pop up suggested event titles, places and people.

  • Search became more powerful across Google’s productivity suite, so when users search from Docs, Sheets, and Slides home screens, they get results from across all three apps.

  • Google rejigged device management in the Admin console, categorising the various settings to make everything easier to find.

Now move on to Page 2 for our full review and detailed look at what Google Apps for Work offers, including an evaluation of features, pricing, and ease-of-use.


Darren Allan contributed to this article

Review: Updated: iPhone 6S Plus

Update: The iPhone 6S Plus is no longer the most expensive handset in Apple’s stable – read our in-depth iPhone 7 Plus review.


In 2014 Apple finally gave us an iPhone which offered a display to rival its Android flagship counterparts, while enabling you to really take advantage of the apps, games, movies and TV shows in its expansive libraries.


The iPhone 6 Plus was expensive, but there’s no denying it was well received. Android fans will continue to berate Apple for its seemingly copycat ‘innovation’, but the plain fact is that the 6 Plus was a great handset, with all the power of the iPhone and a much longer battery life.


It’s no surprise then, that Apple returned in 2015 with the refreshed iPhone 6S Plus, and then followed its phablet line up again in 2016 with the iPhone 7 Plus.


The iPhone 6S Plus inherited the price tag of its predecessor, but since the arrival of its successor – the 7 Plus – Apple has not only cut the price, but also removed the 16GB and 64GB models entirely.


It has introduced a new storage option though, with a 32GB model now lining up alongside the 128GB 6S Plus. The 32GB variant will set you back $649 (£599, AU$1,079) – which is cheaper than the launch price for the now discontinued 16GB phone.


The 128GB model – which we tried out for this review – launched at $949 (£789, AU$1,529), but can now be had for $749 (£699, AU$1,229). The good news in the US is that the phone does come unlocked at these prices and works on any carrier, GSMA or CDMA.



iPhone 6S Plus review


Unsurprisingly that put the 6S Plus up against the top phones on the market, rubbing shoulders with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy Note 5, LG G5, OnePlus 3 and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium


As you’ve probably guessed from the ‘S’ handle in its name, the 6S Plus is more of an incremental upgrade over the 6 Plus rather than a reimagining of Apple’s smartphone range.


It might be a stretch for current 6 Plus incumbents to justify upgrading to the new iPhone 6S Plus, but it’s got a few fancy features you won’t find on older iPhones.



iPhone 6S Plus review


Design


There’s no mistaking the incremental credentials of the iPhone 6S Plus when it comes to design. It looks identical to the iPhone 6 Plus, and I mean identical. Remember the iPhone 4 and 4S? It’s like that.


In fact, the only obvious marking that differentiates the 6S Plus is the small ‘S’ logo on the rear below the word ‘iPhone’ – although it will be covered by your hand 90% of the time (or 100% of the time by a case).



iPhone 6S Plus review


The sleek, rounded metal body continues to look and feel premium, with the build quality you’d expect from Apple. After last year’s unfortunate ‘bendgate‘ fiasco, Apple has looked to reassure people that its latest smartphone duo are tough. This isn’t strictly necessary, given that we’d have expected last year’s models to be strong enough to get through a couple of years of use, but some clarification was needed.


Both the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus sport what Apple is calling ‘7000 series aluminum’, which it claims is a lot stronger. Who wants to volunteer up their new iPhone 6S Plus for a bend test?


The 6S Plus is still a beast in the hand, with Apple’s insistence on the sizeable bezels above and below the display ensuring its supersized dimensions.



iPhone 6S Plus review


The 6S Plus is ever so slightly thicker than its predecessor, gaining an additional 0.2mm in girth. You won’t notice the addition, and I suspect Apple needed a little extra space to squeeze in its 3D Touch technology.



iPhone 6S Plus review


It’s also piled on the pounds, gaining 20g on the 6 Plus, which sees the iPhone 6S Plus tip the scales at a hefty 192g.


It’s fair to say, then, that you’ll notice the 6S Plus in your hand and pocket, and it can get a little tiring on the wrist to hold it for extended periods one-handed. Most of the time I found I had to employ both mitts to keep it steady and reach all areas of the screen.


The flat rear and rounded metal edges offer little in the way of grip, which makes the iPhone 6S Plus a bit of a slippery eel. A tight grasp is required to ensure it doesn’t make a dash for the floor, although Apple’s silicon case provides both protection and in-hand security for $39 / £29 / AU$59.



iPhone 6S Plus review


Apple’s stuck with the same button placements too, with power/lock on the right and the volume keys on the left, just below the mute switch. During one-handed use I found I needed to stretch a little to reach them, and those with smaller palms will struggle more.


There is a silver (actually, pink) lining though: the iPhone 6S Plus has a new color! In addition to gold, silver and space grey you can now pick up Apple’s latest supersized smartphone in a fetching shade of ‘Rose Gold’… also known as pink.


The familiar design of the iPhone 6S Plus will be comforting to the Apple faithful, while outsiders may look on with raised eyebrows, mumbling something about a lack of progression from the Cupertino firm. And they may have a point.



iPhone 6S Plus review


Display


On first viewing the screen on the iPhone 6S Plus is the same as its predecessor, with the 5.5-inch panel sporting a full HD resolution and 401ppi pixel density.


That makes it sharper than the smaller iPhone 6S, which only musters a 1334 x 750 resolution, resulting in 326ppi.


Text and images are crisp and clear, colors are vibrant and images pop, especially if you whack the screen brightness up (just keep an eye on the battery life if you do).



iPhone 6S Plus review


The IPS screen is covered in toughened glass with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating, and it does a better job than most at keeping the display relatively print-free.


It’s not perfect, and there were still times I had to give it a quick wipe, but compared to many of its Android rivals the iPhone 6S Plus is less of a smudge magnet.


As I’ve mentioned, hold the iPhone 6S Plus side by side to the iPhone 6 Plus and there are no visible differences between the two, but the 6S Plus has a hidden bonus feature: 3D Touch.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hands-on review: DJI Mavic Pro

When most people think of drones they usually imagine a big, scary, four-armed miniature helicopter. However, drone makers in 2016 have introduced smaller and more portable quad-copters, like the GoPro Karma and Yuneec Breeze.


Now DJI is introducing its smallest, smartest and most approachable drone yet, the Mavic Pro. With the ability to fold up into a water bottle-sized package and a starting price of $749 (about £575, AU$980), this tiny drone comes priced right and with all the smart features of DJI’s other models – plus a few new ones to boot.



DJI Mavic Pro review


Design


Measuring 3.27 x 7.8 x 3.27 inches (83 x 198 x 83mm; W x D x H) when folded up, the Mavic Pro looks downright adorable and has nearly the same size as a water bottle. DJI has also come up with a new ultralight and aerodynamic airframe that weighs only 743g.


Compared to DJI’s past drones, it’s teeny at half the size and weight of the company’s flagship Phantom 4. The Mavic Pro is the first DJI drone small enough to be thrown into a backpack or purse rather than a special hard pack specifically designed for it.



DJI Mavic Pro review


This is all thanks to a new folding design in which the two front arms swing back while the rear limbs flip down and towards the quadcopter’s main body. Despite rotors being attached to articulating elements, the Mavic Pro feels solid. It takes a fair bit of force to position everything, but not enough to stop you from getting it setup in a minute.



DJI Mavic Pro review


Your drone for everything


With most devices, going smaller usually means cutting features, but that couldn’t be more wrong with the Mavic Pro. It still comes equipped with all the features of DJI’s larger drones, including front- and bottom-mounted sensors, built-in obstacle avoidance, subject tracking, self-piloted return landings and geofencing to help keep it out of restricted air zones.


If anything, users lose a tiny bit of speed by going with this smaller drone. The Mavic Pro can achieve a maximum speed of 40mph (65kph) in sport mode – a special setting for drone racing, if you want to cut your teeth at the burgeoning sport – while the Phantom 4 can hit a 45mph (72kph) top speed.



DJI Mavic Pro review


DJI’s newest drone is also designed to fly steadily, even in the face of 24mph (39kph) winds. As for range, you’ll be able to stay connected to the quadcopter up to 4.3 miles (7km) away and a single charge gives you up to 27 minutes of flight time.


Unlike the GoPro Karma, the Mavic Pro comes with a camera, but you can’t take it off for non-airborne adventures due to a non-removeable gimbal. That said, the camera can record 4K video at 30fps or 1080p footage at 96fps – the latter of which it can also live stream to Facebook, YouTube and Periscope at a slower 30fps rate.


Alternatively, users could snap 12MP image stills in Adobe’s DNG RAW format. Users will also be able to take two-second long exposures. While DJI is confident its new three-axis gimbal will produce sharp results, we’ll have to put this to the test in the wild with our full review. On top of stabilizing recordings, they gimbal is also designed to turn the camera 90-degrees for portraits and capturing tall architecture.


In terms of optics, the camera can capture a 78.8-degree field of view and focus as closely as 19-inches (19cm).



DJI Mavic Pro review


Screens up, hands down


Ultimately, the greatest barrier to entry with drones has been intimidating controls, and DJI is trying to change that with a simpler and just-as pocketable solution.


The optional remote control is also made with a similar folding design in which the two top-mounted antennas flip up while the bottom half of the controller splits to reveal a smartphone clamp.



DJI Mavic Pro review


While there’s a screen built into the controller, it only displays telemetry data such as altitude, orientation, speed and distance. To actually see though the drone’s eye, you’ll need to connect a mobile phone. Thankfully, the picture looks clearer.



DJI Goggles review


Alternatively, the drone maker also introduced a new DJI Goggles headset that displays an 85-degree view from the drone on a 1080p display. We got a few seconds to try on the headset and we were amazed with the clarity and lag-free quality of the picture.


It’s an immersive experience, to be sure, but one most users likely won’t need unless they’re racing the drone in the aforementioned sports mode.


Overall the controls feel good, especially with a set of premium metal joysticks rather than the plastic nubs we’ve seen on other drone controllers. Though there are numerous sets of buttons, we weren’t intimated as everything was clearly marked, including controls for taking photos and return landings.



DJI Mavic Pro review


And if that’s still too much for you, DJI has beefed up the mobile controls on smartphones. Going app-only with the Mavic Pro allows users to simply tap on a location for the drone to fly to. Uses can also tell the drone to fly forward while it avoids obstacles on its own.


The Mavic Pro is also the first DJI drone you can control with gestures alone. It’s a surprisingly robust mode that allows you to wave your hands to get the drone’s attention. From there, you could make a “Y” with your arms to tell the quadcopter to focus on you, or, if you mimic a photo frame with your fingers, the drone will take an aerial selfie.


Beyond these neat commands, you can also orchestrate the drone’s flight with your hands. Gesture in a direction and the drone will follow suit. Likewise, if you have the drone focus on you, it will also follow you as you move – from a generous distance, that is.



DJI Mavic Pro review


Early verdict


On paper, the Mavic Pro seems like DJI’s most accessible drone yet. It’s priced right, and compared to the GoPro Karma, it’s also more affordable with an included camera, no less. Between the improved smartphone app and gesture controls, DJI has made a drone that’s much easier to control for the less technically minded.


Mavic Pro should appeal to those who have been watching drone footage by the wayside and are itching to make their own. DJI has finally done away with two of the biggest turn offs of drones by making a device that’s far more portable and easier to control.

Deal: massive Logitech sale, save up to 50% on keyboards, webcams, mice, and more

logitech amazon sale


Amazon’s deal of the day is something of a doozy this time around. As is always the case, this Gold Box Deal of the Day will only last for today, September 27, so if you need new computer accessories, now might be your time to act.


Although the package is advertised as 50 percent off select devices, we’re seeing some go for much less. A Bluetooth Mouse (M557) is currently going for $20, for instance, and its list price is closer to $50, meaning Amazon reports 70 percent savings.


Logitech ZeroTouch app menuSee also: Logitech lets you turn any car into a connected car with Logi ZeroTouch5

Other deals of note include the Logitech Speaker System Z523 with Subwoofer, which is going for half off its usual $100 price tag. You’ll have to click over to the second page to find that one, however, because this deal spans two pages of products.


For anyone in the market for a new keyboard, there are a variety for sale here, including some in snazzy colors like orange and pomegranate. Those mice (mouses?) with the giant trackball are also available for half off.


To see if there’s anything in this Logitech Gold Box Deal that may interest you, click the button below to check it out. Then let us know in the comments what you think is the best steal of the bunch!


Check out the Sale!
Jaybird-1Next: Logitech is acquiring Jaybird for $50 million2

Sunday, September 25, 2016

How to Use Maps Extensions in iOS 10




Here is a guide how to use Maps Extensions in iOS 10 to add third party apps to Apple Maps.


For many iOS users, especially commuters, Apple Maps has been a welcomed addition to the operating system despite having its share of issues and updates over the years. There are multiple new changes to Maps in iOS 10 including the new feature Extensions which includes support for third party apps.


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The main purpose of these extensions is to give you the ability to do things you would normally do through another app, right within the Maps application. As of right now, the list of apps that support Maps Extensions is growing yet still will help you in some daily tasks.


How to Use Maps Extensions in iOS 10


Here are the steps to start using Maps Extensions in iOS 10.



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Watch the video above for a quick guide on Maps Extensions.


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How to Use Maps Extensions


When you are using Maps to locate a restaurant, usually you will have information displayed regarding its hours of operation, photos and often a link to more info on Yelp.


Now with extensions, apps like OpenTable and Yelp have support to allow for reservation making right through Maps.
MapsExtensions


This is a similar behavior as the new Messages features in iOS 10 which allows a full-fledged messaging environment within any app. The Maps experience is changing in order to allow iPhone users the ability to completely plan their day completely within this application.


In order to enable these extensions, you will need to navigate to Settings and then to Maps. There you will see a switch for On for any available apps that you have installed that will function with Extensions.


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When open on a location, you will see options appear for your selection if you have an available app installed. For example, if you use Uber (one of the supported apps), you will see an option to get an Uber to your location and have it deliver you to your selection.


UberExtension


There are many more apps that have potential to do great things with Extensions yet we need to wait on developers to release them so keep your eyes peeled for updates to the app store and apps you frequently use.


YelpExtension


If your frequent apps are used in any way regarding places of business or travel, it will likely have an update coming to support Maps Extensions in iOS 10.


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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: Sony MDR-1000X Wireless Headphones

Here we go again. Another Bose QuietComfort 35 competitor. Samsung just made the Level On Pro Wireless, and now Sony’s crashing the party with its MDR-1000X. It can feel, at times, like we’re just beating the dead active noise-cancelling horse here.


It’s an exceptionally fierce competition, but while there are some definite similarities between them – they’re all noise-cancelling headphones with four microphones, a 20-hour battery life and their own codec that promises Hi-Res Audio when paired with any of the brand’s music players, for example – Sony’s MDR-1000X brings its own bag of parlour tricks to the table.


It’s these tricks, this attention to the minor details, that gives the MDR-1000X the edge on the QC35s, especially if you take into consideration Sony’s X-factor: the LDAC codec and DSEE HX that converts uncompressed or lossless 44.1kHz/16bit files to near Hi-Res quality sound.


Announced at CES in 2015, LDAC is Sony’s play into the high-resolution audio space replacing, or rather enhancing, Bluetooth by promising 96kHz/24bit music in wireless mode for anyone rocking a Sony Xperia Z series phone (Z3 or later), Hi-Res models of Walkman, 4K Sony TVs, AV receivers or a Sony-branded wireless speaker.



Sony MDR 1000X


If your smart product of choice doesn’t start with an ‘X’ or ‘Z’ however, all hope isn’t lost – the MDR-1000X are still a comfortable, decent-sounding pair of noise cancelling cans … if you have $400 (£330 or AU$700) just laying around.


Design


Sony’s been using a similar design on its premium headphones for some time now. The Sony MDR-1000X faintly resemble this year’s H.ear On MDR-100ABN with the only major difference being the exterior microphones located on each of the earcups.


Each cup houses a 40mm closed dynamic driver encircled by thick faux leather pads. While Samsung opted for a pair of on-ear headphones, Sony’s are absolutely over-ears. They engulf the entire ear, which actually make them quite comfortable for extended use.


Moving up the bridge a bit is a hinge that allows the earcups to fold up for easy storage and a padded plastic band. The band is fairly flexible and strong enough to resist a fair amount of force, but it’s still worth being fairly careful around. For the price it’d would’ve benefitted Sony to make the bridge a bit sturdier (that’s where a vast majority of breakage happens), but overall it’s a minor complaint.



Sony MDR 1000X


Along the underside of the cups are two ports – a standard 3.5mm aux and microUSB port that you use for charging. The 1000X comes with a USB-to-microUSB charger, but not a wall converter, which implies that Sony expects you to use your laptop to charge the headset in between usage. That said, Sony provides an extraordinarily long 5-foot 3.5-to-3.5mm cord which means that practically no portable device should be out of reach from the 1000X.


Speaking of the battery, Sony claims that you can expect the MDR-1000X to go about 20 hours with both active noise cancelling and Bluetooth turned on, or about 22 hours without noise cancelling. I found that estimate to even be a bit conservative – I wore mine for two days straight listening to music for about eight or nine hours each day and the battery just dipped below the 50% mark.


Now, you might be wondering where the touch controls are. Eschewing traditional buttons, Sony has made the right earcup touch-activated. Tap twice pauses/plays the current song. Swiping left skips back, while right moves you forward. Finally, swiping up raises the volume and down, as you might expect, lowers it.



Sony MDR 1000X


The added benefit of touch controls is that you can also use the built-in microphones to answer incoming phone calls with two taps on the right earcup and activate your personal assistant of choice by pressing and holding the center of the earcup for a few seconds. (Phone calls, by the way, sound exceptionally clear through the headset and those who I spoke to reported that I sounded clearer using the MDR-1000X than I have using any other headset.)


The touch controls only work when the headset is in wireless mode, however. Plug it into your laptop, tablet or phone and you won’t be able to control the action from the headset.


The headphones support NFC for quick pairing on Android devices that support the feature. However, I couldn’t connect the headphones to more than one device at a time – a minor problem if you want to listen to music off your laptop but still want to have the MDR-1000X connected to your phone in case someone calls.


Performance and features


There’s a lot to unpack here, but if you only leave with two takeaways, they should be that the MDR-1000X has excellent (though not totally perfect) noise cancelling chops and music playback – especially when using another Hi-Res Audio device – is outstanding.


Let’s start with the noise cancelling, as it’s arguably the biggest reason the headphones cost as much as they do. What separates Sony’s noise cancelling tech from Bose’s is that Sony’s identifies different types of audio cues and works specifically to counteract them.



Sony MDR 1000X


During a demo with an engineer from Sony, they took me through three distinct settings they felt most people used noise cancelling. The first setting, and the most obvious, was a plane. So while I was listening to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky (just a heads up, this is played at pretty much every single music demo I’ve ever gotten) the engineer started a recording of a plane engine from a speaker located above my head.


Now, I wasn’t completely oblivious to the roar – even with noise cancelling on I immediately noticed that something had changed – but compared to the sound of the engine with the headphones off, it was almost entirely diminished. There aren’t many headphones that can almost completely block out a separate speaker blasting a dull roar of an airplane engine, but Sony’s MDR-1000X actually did.



Sony MDR 1000X


The last two scenarios they walked me through were a bus, which, instead of a dull roar, was more of intermittent loud noises and audible conversations, and an office that had no loud noises and just loud conversation.


As you’d expect, the headphones blocked out the dull roar just fine, but Sony made the claim that the headphones would allow voices to pass through … which didn’t happen. This is done so that if someone is talking to you – or, worse, yelling at you to get your attention before you get hit by a car while walking on the street – you can actually hear them. But this mode simply didn’t work, either there during the demo or when I used them around town.


Oh well.


The mode that I did find impressive, however, is what Sony is calling Quick Attention Mode. When you use your hand to cup the right speaker, the volume drops immediately and the exterior microphone channels all incoming noise into the headset. This could be useful if you’re waiting to hear important information about a gate change at the airport or if you want to have a brief conversation with someone without taking off your headphones.



Sony MDR 1000X


Overall the noise cancelling works well, and while it doesn’t work quite the way Sony claims it will, it’s near as good as Bose’s QuietComfort 35s are with the added perk of Quick Attention Mode.


Music playback-wise, it’s a similar story: the Sony MDR-1000X are darn impressive (I’d even use the word “outstanding” here) … but it comes with the caveat that you won’t get the most out of them unless you’re using a Sony device.


One of the MDR-1000X’s biggest draws is that they support Hi-Res Audio via Sony’s LDAC codec and DSEE HX which supposedly takes MP3 files and digitally adds in missing data lost during the compression process. Technically speaking, DSEE HX converts uncompressed or lossless 44.1kHz/16bit files to near Hi-Res quality sound – up to 96kHz/24bit. That said, whether you’ll be able to hear the difference between audio upconverted using DSEE HX is up for debate.


Music transmitted via LDAC, on the other hand, is amazing however the only players that support it are Xperia Z series phones (Z3 or later), Hi-Res models of Walkman, 4K Sony TVs, AV receivers and its wireless speakers.


If you don’t own any of those devices, it’s not all bad, however. The MDR-1000X supports SBC, AAC and aptX codecs, meaning that there are a few different ways to get high bitstream music from your device to your headphones.



Sony MDR 1000X


Music, both in aptX and AAC, sounded relatively crisp with sparkling highs and crystal-clear mids. Listening to classical tunes felt like I was transported to my favorite music hall which I then proceeded by nearly blowing out my eardrums listening to the Violent Femmes.


The MDR-1000X are a solid-sounding pair of headphones, and clean, too. You won’t find a lot of artificial tampering here like you do on any of Beats’ headphones, but in order to get the best sound you’ll probably want to be the owner of Sony device.


We liked


The MDR-1000X are, in almost every sense of the word, a premium pair of headphones. The faux-leather earpads are extremely comfortable for extended periods of time, they do an excellent job cancelling external noise and fun features like Quick Attention Mode and Hi-Res Audio through LDAC are neat tricks you can’t find anywhere else.


They’re also good-sounding headphones, and doubly so if you have a Sony device like an Xperia smartphone or Hi-Res Walkman laying around.


We disliked


But, that said, if you don’t fall into that category there are better-sounding headphones for less money – especially if you don’t mind dropping the noise cancelling feature. Similarly, I thought the active noise cancellation was done better here than in other headphones, but it’s probably not what I’d consider the top of its class.


Final verdict


Sony was right. The MDR-1000X are definitely the closest competitor to Bose’s QuietComfort series I’ve ever had the pleasure of testing. Some high-end codecs (LDAC, AAC and aptX) help the 1000X sound even better than the QC35s, but ultimately the noise canceling is a bit less effective in Sony’s pair of cans.


What should drive your decision on whether to buy the MDR-1000X is your music player – if you’re a Sony Xperia owner, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of headphones that sound as good as these with noise canceling tech built-in. Even if you’re not, Sony’s wares are still worth a listen – and maybe a purchase – if you aren’t too put out by its $400 (£330 or AU$700) price tag.

Samsung already exchanged half of recalled Galaxy Note 7s

A lot of Note 7 owners don’t have to sleep with one eye open anymore, according to Samsung’s latest press release. The company says it has already exchanged half of the Galaxy Note 7s sold in the US that had been turned in through its voluntary recall program. Further, 90 percent of the people who went in for the recall apparently asked for replacement Note 7s, which were released on September 21st, instead of getting another model. Samsung made sure those replacement devices are safe, but if you want to know if you really got one that won’t blow up, check its battery indicator. The safe Note 7s have green battery indicators, though you might have to download a software update to change its hue.

‘Best by September 22,’ Samsung Milk Music finally expires

Samsung Milk Music uninstall


The fateful day hath come: Samsung’s music streaming app Milk Music has finally expired as of September 22nd. At least in the US.


Samsung launched its own music streaming service way back when, and it’s been aggressively pushed on to all the Galaxy devices across the world. Powered by Slacker Radio, Samsung Milk Music was more akin to Pandora. But with the emergence of Spotify and then Apple Music, Milk Music simply had no place in the market.


best music streaming apps for androidSee also: 10 best music streaming apps and services for Android38

So after months of people speculating that the demise of Samsung Milk Music was imminent, the South Korean company finally announced in August that the service would indeed be shutting down on September 22nd. Well, today is the day, folks. If you were a big fan, you’ve had a month to make appropriate adjustments. If you haven’t done so, you’ll be happy to know that Milk Music users get a free 14-day trial for Slacker Plus. After that, however, the Plus version will cost $3.99 a month.


In an official statement, Duncan Orrell-Jones, CEO of Slacker Radio, has expressed his hope for a smooth transition for all former Milk Music users:


While we’re not commenting on Samsung’s decision to no longer support Milk Music, our hope is that the impact on users will be minimal. Milk Music has always been powered by Slacker Radio, and by switching over to Slacker, music fans can continue to enjoy the same personalized listening experience they’ve come to love through our unique programming, storytelling and curated stations.



Although Samsung has said that it would not be abandoning the service completely, citing that Milk Music still operates in countries like China and its home turf, South Korea, I think it’s only a matter of time before the company unplugs the service in those countries as well.


Were you an active Milk Music user? If so, will you be using Slacker Radio or transitioning into services like Spotify or Apple Music? Let us know by commenting below!


Show Press Release



Samsung Milk Music


Samsung is sun setting its Samsung Milk Music service in the United States on September 22, 2016.


We have made the strategic decision to invest in a partner model focused on seamlessly integrating the best music services available today into our family of Galaxy devices. We believe that working with partners will accelerate innovation, enhance device sales and provide amazing new experiences for our customers.


We have no additional details to share at this time.


For any related media inquiries, please contact: Danielle Meister Cohen- [email protected]or Robin Schultz-[email protected].


9 Things to Know About the iPhone 5 iOS 10 Update




We continue our look at Apple’s iOS 10 update with the most important things to know, right now, about the iPhone 5 iOS 10 update.


Apple’s iPhone 5 made the cut for iOS 10. Barely. When Apple announced iOS 10 at WWDC 2016 in June it confirmed it for most iOS 9 powered devices but not all of them. Popular devices like the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4s, a device that arrived the year before the iPhone 5, didn’t get an iOS 10 beta.


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The iPhone 5 iOS 10 update that arrived earlier this month might be one of the last major iOS updates on the device’s schedule.


Thankfully, it’s a good one.


iPhone-5-8.57.59-AM


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The iOS 10 update brings massive change to some of Apple’s core applications including Messages, Maps and Music. It also, as we’ve pointed out, brings some problem with it and those problems unfortunately extend to the iPhone 5.


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Today we want to take a close look at the iPhone 5 iOS 10 update and bring you up to speed on the most important things you, as iPhone 5 owners, need to know about your latest upgrade.


This roundup offers early iPhone 5 iOS 10 impressions, details about iPhone 5 iOS 10 problems, information about the iOS 9 downgrade, iOS 10 jailbreak, and more. We’ll continue to update this roundup with new information as we get it so check back for regular changes.


Hands-on review: GoPro Hero5 Session

The GoPro Hero5 Session is the small, cube-shaped action camera that’s now capable of shooting stabilized 4K video and capturing all sorts of new wide angles.


It’s the scrappy alternative to the new GoPro Hero5 Black, and surprisingly it shares many of the top-end specs within its more compact camera frame.


This is a big improvement over last year’s GoPro Hero4 Session thanks to a more advanced camera sensor and the addition of video stabilization.



GoPro Hero5 Session review


Your video will look noticeably better at the 2.7K and 4K resolutions, more field of view choices will fully take in your adventurous lifestyle, and wind noise reduction will make sound clearer this time around.


It’s not still the easiest camera to use, with super-simplified controls and no touchscreen. You only get a tiny LCD at the top. You also won’t find a swappable battery here, once again.


But the Hero5 Session remains the ideal choice for anyone who wants a subtler camera mounted to their body, board or wherever, and doesn’t want to pay more than $299 (£249, AU$459).


Price and release date


  • Launches on October 2 for $299 (£249, AU$459)

  • Hero4 Session sticks around at $199 (£179, AU$299)

  • Hero5 Session is unquestionably worth the extra money

The GoPro Hero5 Session costs $299 (£249, AU$459), which is more expensive than the GoPro Hero4 Session at $199 (£179, AU$299) – still on sale and now just dubbed the Hero Session.



GoPro Hero5 Session review


It’s worth the extra $100 (£70, AU$160) because there’s a major sensor quality and specs boost between the old and new versions. That wait isn’t long either.


The GoPro Hero5 Session release date is October 2, so it’ll be on store shelves, along with the Black version, near the top of the month.


Design


  • 1.5in (38mm) cubed design allows obstructive mounting

  • Works with the GoPro Karma drone

  • Waterproof up to 33ft (10m)

  • USB-C charging, but no swappable battery

The Hero5 Session is less conspicuous than the full-sized Hero models, and that’s a big advantage to adrenaline junkies and everyday vloggers.



GoPro Hero5 Session review


We’ve seen people be able to clip it to new and interesting places – there’s even a retainer-like mount that allows you to carry it in your mouth for surprisingly solid stabilization. That’s not doable with the Black version.


The Session measures 1.5 in (38mm) cubed, and looks exactly like the Hero4 Session. The only way we were able to tell the two apart was by the new matte black finish. The older Session is glossy black.



GoPro Hero5 Session review


It’s once again waterproof without housing up to 33 feet (10m), and its frame wraps around the Session body more for mounting rather than protection.


Hero 5 Session is compatible with all of the mounts and even works with the new GoPro Karma drone and Karma Gimbal for steady video in the air and in the hand.


The unchanged design doesn’t squeeze in a swappable battery, sticking with a built-in 1,000mAh battery.



GoPro Hero5 Session review


That’s a deal breaker for video-capturing marathoners, but the form factor doesn’t give it much room for such a feature. You’ll have to use a portable charger in between captures, or become very disciplined with your video taking and ability to remember to properly hold in on off button to make sure it’s off.


Conveniently, the GoPro Hero5 Session uses the newer USB Type-C port for charging. This means the cable is reversible, so there’s no more fumbling around with one-directional micro USB anymore.


Video and photo quality


  • Debuts 4K video capturing on the Session

  • Three new fields of view for a total of five

  • 10MP photo burst shots at 30fps

The Hero5 Session design doesn’t change much, but the camera’s video and photo capabilities have grown up tremendously. Its 4K video and 10MP burst shots at 30 frames per second are just the tip of the iceberg.



GoPro Hero5 Session review


There are several more field of view modes available: Superview, Linear and Narrow join Wide and Medium. It’s amazing that this small camera can record in Superview now for extra-wide video. Linear is also clutch because it goes wide while reducing barrel distortion.


The low-light performance is touted as consumer grade, compared to pro-level Hero5 Black video, and there aren’t as many frame rate options among the various resolutions.


That said, the gulf between Black and a Session has narrowed tremendously in the jump from Hero4 to Hero5, and that’s great news for everyone who can’t decide between the two options.


Interface and apps


  • New GoPro apps for capturing and editing are a plus

  • Promises better connectivity, but that’s still under our testing

Here’s where GoPro loses most people. It’s never had the easiest in-camera menu interface and that goes for editing video off camera, too.



GoPro Hero5 Session review


GoPro’s solution is is two-fold. Whenever your camera is charging, it now auto-uploads your videos and photos to the cloud via its new subscription service called GoPro Plus.


There are also new Capture and Quick apps available on phones, making recording and editing easier on mobile. Having to retreat back to a Mac Pro after every outing isn’t nearly as feasible for timely video.


It’s now incredibly simple to capture footage, but it’s still easy to leave the camera on and drain the battery due two it’s two button design and sliver of an LED screen at the top. Controlling an advanced camera with so few buttons can a headache.


Early verdict


The GoPro Hero5 Session is a capable 4K action camera with a minimalist design that pushes the specs to the max within its cube-shaped confines.



GoPro Hero5 Session review


It’s the more portable GoPro, which may be a fair trade off next to the more capable Black version and its swappable battery.


We have more videos and photos to upload, so expect to see a full GoPro Hero5 Session review in the coming days.

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