OnePlus is ditching stock Android and fans aren’t happy

OnePlus has explained its plans to move further from the stock Android experience when it launches the next version of its Oxygen OS UI.

The firm has traditionally earned plaudits from Android fans because it hasn’t strayed too far from the simplistic stock Android experience, with just a few cosmetic changes and additional features.

However, that will change with the new version of OxygenOS that’ll arrive alongside the Android 11 update. It’s already been met with trepidation by those who’ve caught a preview of OxygenOS 11 with the DP3. Some have accused OnePlus of skewing too far towards Samsung’s One UI, but now OnePlus is making its reasons clear.

In a post on its official forums, the company called stock Android a “good starting point,” but said it can “make the experience even better.” The company says its changes are designed to assist one-handed use in the context of ever-growing smartphone displays.

Related: OnePlus Nord review

The company writes: “As screens increase in size, so does the unused white space. We wanted to make the most of that space while keeping the interface easy to use. We conducted A/B testing with our users to determine the best size of the headline, and found that 65% prefer slightly smaller headlines. Also, 80% of users tested preferred titles with subtitles rather than without. The result is a new headline-body hierarchy that streamlines information delivery in OxygenOS 11.”

The popular Android manufacturer says since people generally hold their phones at the bottom of the display, it has updated the layout to move touch controls closer to the thumbs. The firm is also adding a Quick Share button within the camera app that enables users to tap a thumbnail of the last pic taken.

Fans aren’t happy about that change, with one commenting: “You explain way too much above. It was easy if you just agreed that you took inspiration from OneUI.” Another poster added: “I won’t update. I’m happy with the near stock Android experience of Oxygen OS 10.”

This comes after the company faced criticism for an accord with Facebook that meant the social network’s background tech couldn’t be deleted. The changes will come into effect when OnePlus updates its more recent phones to Android 11 in the next few months.

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Is your favourite podcast tracking you? Overcast update spills the beans

The popular podcast app Overcast will now warn listeners if their favourite shows are  tracking them to serve targeted ads.

A new beta version of the app will tell users whether they’re likely to hear dynamic ads based upon their location, or other uniquely identifying information.

An update seen by The Verge informs users if “downloading or streaming its episodes will reveal your IP address to them which they may use to servicer information about you.” In a first for any of the major podcast apps, Overcast will now inform listeners if a show “may follow individual-listener behaviour across multiple shows or the web, often to track responses to ads.”

The app will also inform users which external services the podcast producer users to help with hosting, data collection and inserting advertisements. Users will now be able to tap on these services – those like Podsights, Podtrac, Chartable and Megaphone – to learn more about them.

Related: Best iPhone 2020

Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to opt out of the tracking, but if you feel a podcaster is pushing the boundaries of acceptability when it comes to serving ads, you’ll have the option to switch up your listening habits.

Image credit: The Verge

As The Verge points out, this is a major break with Spotify, which is currently looking to assert dominance over podcasts in much the way it has music streaming. It already knows plenty about what podcast listeners are likely to be into because they have access to each account holders music streaming preferences. The company is also allowing advertisers to target users based on the podcasts they listen to.

Last summer, the company said: “We aspire to develop a more robust advertising solution for podcasts that will allow us to layer in the kind of targeting, measurement, and reporting capabilities we have for ads that run alongside other content experiences like music and video.”

Overcast offers betas to the public, so this tool is readily available via Apple’s TestFlight app. If you wish to take it for a spin. It’ll be interesting to see whether other podcasting apps will follow suit.

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Apple AirTags to arrive alongside late iPhone 12 in mid-October – report

Apple could launch the long-rumoured AirTags trackers, alongside the iPhone 12 later this year according to new supply chain rumours.

The expected rival to the Tile Bluetooth trackers will be announced alongside the next-gen handsets according to the Japanese site Macotakara (via 9to5Mac).

The site, which has a decent record in this regard, brings word from Chinese suppliers saying the event will come in mid-October and will feature the launch of the iPhone 12 and Apple Watch Series 6.

It writes (translated): “According to Chinese supplier information, Apple seems to be preparing to announce the loss prevention tag AirTag at the online event of iPhone 12 series, Apple Watch Series 6 scheduled to be held in the latter half of October 2020.”

Related: Best iPhone 2020

Should Apple launch the iPhone 12 in mid-October, that would be around a month later than we usually see the company take to the stage at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino. The company has already warned us to face delays of a “few weeks” for this year’s iPhone models due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As far as AirTags are concerned, they’re already late, according to expectations. We’d figured these devices would arrive at an event in March alongside the iPhone SE 2020, but Apple chose not to reveal them amid the uncertainty of global lockdowns, while they were absent from WWDC too.

When they do arrive, the trackers will be an extension of Apple’s existing “Find My” network, which helps device owners keep tabs on their devices and contacts.

Like Tile, AirTags are expected to enable users to attach small trackers to items like keys, wallets and other valuables in order to track them and their last location. It is thought they’ll work with Bluetooth and users will be able to locate the associated items within the Find My app. We haven’t seen any leaked images yet, but the devices are expected to be small white discs that would easily slip inside a wallet, for example.

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The Philips Fidelio X3 headphones are on sale NOW

Philips announced that the Fidelio X3 headphones were on their way this year and they’ve finally gone on sale.

TP Vision – owner of the Philips TV and audio brand – has re-launched the critically acclaimed Fidelio series of high-end headphones and AV products, beginning with the launch of the Philips Fidelio X3 over-ear.

The Fidelio X3 (£299) are on sale from today (August 31st) in the UK, and are available to purchase from Richer Sounds and AO.com, with Selfridges and other retailers following in the first few weeks of September.

After a soft reboot at IFA 2019, the Fidelio range has been resurrected, with the flagship Fidelio X3 the latest version of the headphones that offer natural audio reproduction and stylish design. The open-backed headphones were due to go on sale in May/June of 2020, but we imagine the pandemic caused plans to be set back several months.

Philips says the headphones offer high levels of comfort, with the brand continuing its focus on European design and “sensible user experience” with the headphones. They use responsibly sourced Muirhead leather from Scotland and acoustic fabric from Danish brand Kvadrat.

The drivers are large, multi-layered 50mm units that allow the headphones to deliver the full range, audiophile quality sound the series has made its name with. There’s not much in the way of features aside from being Hi-res Audio certified and having an optional balanced connection to “guarantee optimal stereo separation.

We went hands-on with the headphones back at the Philips event in February, and though they hadn’t yet made it to production stage, we were impressed by the detailed, sweeping and unfussy character of the headphones, as well as their very comfortable fit.

The Philips Fidelio X3 open-backed headphones are available to buy now for £299.

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Netflix is offering some of its best shows and movies for free

Netflix is taking the rare step of offering some of its most popular content – including an episode of Stranger Things – free of charge, in the hopes of luring new subscribers.

The streaming giant is offering a broad cross section of its TV shows and movie portfolio, minus the need to sign up for an account. Among the selection is the very first episode of Stranger Things, the Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston original movie Murder Mystery and the critically acclaimed Sandra Bullock horror flick Birdbox.

Those considering signing up for Netflix can also get a taste of shows like When The See Us, about the terrible injustice experienced by the Central Park Five. You can watch the original film The Two Popes as well as getting a taste of series like Elite, Boss Baby and Grace and Frankie. Nature lovers can preview Our Planet, while reality TV addicts get a glimpse of Love Is Blind – you know that show that has people getting engaged before they meet their partner.

Related: Best Netflix TV shows

“Netflix is the premiere destination for all your entertainment needs. But don’t take our word for it–check out some of our favourite movies and TV shows, absolutely free,” the company writes on the newly-launched Watch Free page (via Engadget).

Of course this is a mere sampling of what’s on offer. If that one episode of Stranger Things you’re going to want to sign-up for a month to see the rest. Netflix has stopped offering free trials in the UK now after we all cycled through every single email address we have. Still, can’t grumble at some no strings free movies, huh?

The company adds: “Choose from a variety of TV shows and movies that are available to watch now for free. You don’t have to sign-up or register, you can just press play and watch.”

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Sony to bring more PlayStation exclusives to PC, so what’s next?

Sony is planning on sharing more PlayStation exclusives to PC, according to a corporate report published by the Japanese gaming giant.

Buried deep within a 2020 prospectus for the wider company, which includes a section on game and network services, is a reference to bringing more first-party titles to Windows-based gamers.

Previously, the traditionally protective company had launched Horizon Zero Dawn and Death Stranding for PC, following their launches on home soil.

Now, after those games were well received, Sony is looking to capitalise on the popularity of more if its first party games.

The company closes the gaming section of the report (via @Wario64) by saying: “We will explore expanding our 1st party titles to the PC platform, in order to promote further growth in our profitability.”

The company didn’t mention which games we could expect to see on PC moving forward. It would be surprising to see major exclusives like The Last of Us 2 arrive on PC, but perhaps the likes of Ghost of Tsushima could get a second wind on PC at some point in 2021.

Sony’s expansion would give Microsoft some competition on its own desktop computing platform. There’s a great deal of synergy between the Windows and Xbox gaming platform, which has seen many top first-party Xbox games dominate the Steam charts too.

It’s definitely a largely untapped resource for Sony, who could generate another revenue source from some of its first-party studios. The port of Death Stranding was certainly considered a successful experiment, with our own Jade King calling it “the best version” of the game.

They wrote: “Death Stranding is still essential now it’s arrived on PC, offering the best version of Kojima Production’s weird and wonderful masterpiece. It’s unconventional gameplay and wacky narrative remains polarizing, but it’s certainly more relevant than ever before in how it depicts a society broken apart by an invisible threat they sadly have no control over. If you have a machine capable of powering this epic adventure, it’s more than worth jumping into.”

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New Lenovo Yoga 9i laptop features leather design and next-gen performance

Lenovo has today announced the new Yoga 9i laptop, featuring next-gen Intel Core processors, a 4K HDR display and an optional luxurious leather exterior.

The Lenovo Yoga 9i is set to become Lenovo’s flagship laptop, and will come in 14- and 15.6-inch sizes. Both models will feature a 2-in-1 design, although Lenovo is also launching the Yoga Slim 9i that’s largely the same device, but available at a cheaper price since it lacks the 360-degree hinge. 

The fancy leather cover is an optional luxury, with a ‘warm Mica’ colour alternative also available. Both models see an edge-to-edge glass palmwrest, which means the trackpad has been shunted underneath. However, fans of trackpad clickiness will be relieved to hear that Lenovo is using haptic feedback technology to simulate the feeling of a physical click. 

Related: Best laptop 2020

Lenovo has also revealed its new laptops will feature Intel’s ‘next-gen’ processors. While it avoided outright calling the new chips ‘Tiger Lake’, it’s almost guaranteed this is what Lenovo is referring to, especially after confirming the inclusion of Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6 support, as well as Intel Xe integrated graphics.

While we’re still waiting for Intel to reveal Tiger Lake and the Xe integrated graphics, it looks like the new architecture will allow users to dabble with casual content creation and gaming without the need a graphics card, although the 15.6-inch model can be configured with a Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti GPU for added graphics performance. 

The Yoga 9i will also supposedly see up to 18 hours of battery life. That’s undoubtedly impressive stamina, but laptop manufacturers are known for overblowing battery life, so take this with a pinch of salt for now. 

Related: Intel Tiger Lake

One of the most impressive aspects of the new Yoga laptop, at least by judging the specs, is the optional 4K display. Lenovo suggests the display boasts high-end features, including HDR, 500-nit brightness and 90% DCI-P3 colour coverage that could potentially make this an ideal system for professional content creators.

A Full HD panel will also be made available, which lacks HDR support and isn’t quite as bright, but will be available at a more affordable price. 

The Lenovo Yoga 9i is expected to be available from October 2020, with the 14-inch model seeing a starting price of 1799€ and the 15-inch alternative featuring a base price of 1899€. UK pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we’ve reached out to Lenovo for more details. 

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Lenovo’s Tab P11 Pro is an iPad Pro rival running Android

The Android tablet realm is well overdue some exciting additions beyond Samsung’s Galaxy Tab range and Lenovo is bringing the power with its new flagship slate.

The Lenovo Tab P11 Pro is the company’s most powerful consumer tablet running Android and rocks a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, backed with some serious media credentials.

The 11.5-inch OLED display brings a 2560×1600 2K resolution with a max brightness of 500 nits with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support. That’s backed by Dolby Atmos compatibility and a quad speaker system from JBL. Battery life is good for 15 hours of video.

Related: Best tablet 2020

The tablet has an attractive aluminium-alloy unibody design, with a 16:10 ratio display and an 87% screen-to-body ratio. Lenovo is touting the 6.9mm slim bezels on all four sides, reaching a max thickness of just 7.7mm.

Lenovo is also touting its capabilities as device suitable for productivity in the home setting. There’s a zero-touch login via facial recognition, background blurring for video calls and stereo sound in both portrait and landscape modes.

There’s also optional keyboard and pen accessories for those seeking to get stuff done at home. The company pledges hotkeys for Microsoft Office apps.

It’ll cost 699 Euros when it goes on sale in November. We’re still waiting on the UK price to be revealed, but we keep you posted. We’re also also waiting for confirming on which version of Android the device will  run out of the box, but we’ll assume it’ll be Android 10.

The Lenovo P11 Tab Pro looks like a legitimate iPad Pro contender for Android users. However, it doesn’t have the power offered by the Galaxy Tab S7, or the 120Hz display, but it’s great to have another great-looking Android option for those looking to conduct their business on a tablet.

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Disney Plus Tips and Tricks: Get the most out of Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and more

Disney Plus isn’t far off it’s six month anniversary in the UK (I know, 2020, right?). However, you’d be forgiven for not yet getting to grips with the service or simply being a new subscriber. Here are eight Disney Plus tips and tricks to set you on your way.

Disney Plus was quite a new proposition for streaming services. Unlike Netflix and Amazon Prime, which are constantly churning out new content alongside their back catalogues, Disney Plus provided an epic catalogue of Pixar, Marvel and classic Disney goodness – with new content reserved for less-frequent cinematic showcases.

Around nine months since its initial US launch, Disney Plus has soared to over 60 million subscribers – a feat Disney has achieved even with the significant impact it has received to its upcoming content schedules. Disney Plus is an unmitigated success thus far, and here’s how to get the most out of it.

Related: Read our full Disney Plus review

Disney_Plus_PS4

1. Create profiles to give you your own space

A stalwart of many streaming services, although Amazon Prime Video was a bit late to the party, is user profiles – and Disney Plus has them.

When you sign up, you’ll create your first profile but you may want more if you are sharing the account with friends or family. When you open Disney Plus, you’ll see the option to “Add Profile”. With separate profiles your watchlists, ongoing viewings and recommended content will all remain separate.

Disney also lets you apply parental controls to profiles so kids can have their own profile without any non-child-friendly content cropping up.

2. Turn off that pesky autoplay

One of the more loathed features of streaming services – and, even less TV and film focused platforms like YouTube – is that dreaded autoplay. Autoplay can be handy for a Sunday series binge but, a lot of the time, it can be a bit of an annoyance.

What’s also annoying is that Disney Plus doesn’t include the option to turn it off in “Settings”, where you think it would be. Instead, before selecting your profile, click “Edit Profiles” and you’ll see the option to turn autoplay off right there.

3. Too many options? Use “Save for Later”

Disney has arguably the best back-catalogue of any streaming service and, unfortunately, we’ve yet to invent a way to watch everything at once. Therefore, you’ll likely want to put some things that catch your eye on the back burner for a later watch.

Disney has got you covered. Simply click on the show or movie that takes your fancy and select the little plus sign next to the “Play” button. Disney hasn’t provided the best solution here as other services, like Prime Video, let you add to your watchlist without having to click into a title. Adding stuff to your Disney Plus watchlist remains a handy feature, nonetheless.

disney plus tv shows section

4. Going on a trip? Use “Download for Later”

If you are heading abroad or are set to be without some kind of internet access for whatever reason, Disney Plus will let you download content to watch later on your mobile devices.

Downloading is as easy clicking what you want to watch and selecting the ‘Download’ icon (which looks like a downward arrow with a line underneath). The Disney Plus mobile apps even provide a dedicated “Downloaded” tab to watch all the stuff you’ve decided to keep for those Wi-Fi-less watch sessions.

5. Disney gives you a ton of tools to find cool stuff

Across all devices,  Disney Plus offers the handy “Collections” section – bringing together similar or related titles under easy-to-understand sections. These range from Throwbacks featuring the likes of Hannah Montana and That’s So Raven to The Simpsons collection, Marvel Animation and a whole lot more. The rows on the Disney Plus homepage are also a useful way of tracking down your next watch, grouping together content that’s Trending, Recommend For You, New to Disney Plus and more.

If you want to get more specific, you can dive into search. On all Disney Plus devices, you can search by movies and show names, actors, characters and even the director to find what you are after. If that’s a bit too specific and you just have a more general idea of what you want, head to Explore and select Movies or Series and then you can filter these via options like Comedy, Documentary, Kids and many more.

6. Find Ultra HD and HDR content on the homepage

One of the early gripes with Disney Plus was that it wasn’t all that easy to find 4K and HDR content, with the tools mentioned above still not accommodating this.

However, on the homepage, scroll down and you will find an “Ultra HD and HDR” row of content for all your great-looking visual goodness.

Disney Plus Homepage

7. Don’t miss those hidden extras

While Disney has plenty of tools to search for things you are familiar with, from specific movies to shows starting your fave actors, what you might not come across as easily is some DVD extra-like goodness.

Much of the content on Disney Plus features an “Extras” tab, with behind-the-scenes shorts on everything from the actors themselves to the nitty-gritty of production. Go behind-the-scenes with the Russo brothers on the development of Avengers Endgame to deleted scenes from Frozen 2, along with much much much more.

8. Tell Disney what you want to see

Something you think Disney Plus should have but it doesn’t? (Give us Deadpool, please). Well, a little known secret is that Disney lets you provide feedback. Go to Settings and head to the Help tab. This will take you to the Disney Plus website where you can submit feedback in the following categories: “Suggest a new feature”, “Request a film or show” and “Tell us if something’s not right”. 

We don’t know the success rate for giving Disney feedback but our hunch would be a swath of support for certain things will be enough to prompt action from the entertainment giant.

9. How to cancel Disney Plus

If you’ve got Disney Plus and even our nifty tips and tricks aren’t enough to keep you enjoying the service, you may be considering cancellation. Here’s how to follow through:

  • Head to the Account page on the Disney Plus website and log in
  • Click on your subscription
  • Head down below your payment details and select Cancel Subscription
  • Click Complete Cancellation to finalise

You’re all set. You’ve cancelled Disney Plus. If you choose to return, come back to brush up on our best tip and tricks to see if it can keep your around next time.

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Cello teams up with Google for affordable Android smart TVs

British TV manufacturer Cello Electronics announced a partnership with Google to produce a new range of smart, Android TVs.

UK TV manufacturer Cello Electronics are known for their cost-effective TVs, and their latest range sees them team with Google to develop an exclusive range of smart TVs that will feature Google Assistant, Chromecast and Google Play Store out of the box.

The added smart functionality will, according to Cello, make watching TV even simpler on their sets. With built-in Google Assistant, users can activate hands-free interaction by saying ‘ok Google’ or pressing the mic button on the remote. Chromecast offers the ability to cast content from another device straight to the TV.

And with Google Play Store built into the set’s interface, viewers will be able to access a range of services and apps, such as Netflix, YouTube, Disney+ and catch-up apps like BBC iPlayer. The TVs will also factor in Freeview Play, bringing an additional 85 channels, plus the rest of the UK catch-up apps.

The initial range will be in 24- 32-, 40-, 43- and 50-inch sizes, with larger formats to follow later. However, the first batch of TVs to go on sale will be HD-ready and Full HD sets. Cello have said they’ll be expanding the range to include 4K TVs in January 2021, which will be available in 50-, 55- and 70-inch models.

Brian Palmer, CEO of Cello Electronics said: “Partnering with Google has been a fantastic move for us as a British business. To be able to give our customers viewing choices not only from Google Play Store and Freeview Play content, but to be able to cast directly from your phone to the TV is technology that we’re thrilled to share.”

Developed exclusively by Google for Cello Electronics, the new Android TV range is available to buy on Amazon, eBay and several other online retailers. Prices start at £179.99 for the 24-inch model.

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