Snynet Solution Logo
MON - SUN: 10 AM - 6 PM
+60 11 5624 8319

Blog

15 Jan 2022

Android 13 release date rumors, supported phones and what we want to see

After the release of Android 12 in 2021, followed by the subsequent releases of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, we’re already wondering what the next version of Android will bring.

Since its debut in 2008, Android has always brought a major feature with every headline release. But with Android 13, codenamed Tiramisu, it could be a perfect time for Google to fine-tune what’s already there in the millions of Android smartphones around the world.

We’ve combed through our Pixel, OnePlus, and other Android phones to roundup five features we’d like to see arrive in Android 13 later this year, no matter how major or minor these may be.

But first, we’ll run you through when we expect it to land and which Android phones will likely be supported.

Android 13 release date rumors

A new Android version usually appears for developers in February. This gives developers a heads up as to what should be appearing in the fall of that year, allowing them an idea of what they could implement for future versions of their apps.

A version for consumers is usually announced at Google I/O in June, followed by a public beta release, then a shipping release around October, which is when we expect Android 13 to arrive this year. 

Android 13 supported phones

Android has a reputation for not making it easy to update your phone to the latest version. Part of it is due to the different manufacturers on how they have designed Android to match a brand, such as Samsung.

But with Google releasing a new Pixel phone every year, these usually come with the latest Android version. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a Pixel 7 or a Pixel Fold appear with Android 13 in October again to start with. 

Other manufacturers usually follow after a few months of testing and putting their own spin on the new Android release, but it’s usually not until the first half of the next year.

What we want to see

Android 13 is still a little while away, so we've put together a list of the improvements we want to see from the next-gen software.

1. UI Fixes

Google IO 2021

(Image credit: Google)

While Material You showcases a new look for Android, it’s not without its faults. Some buttons are confusing users when a feature is enabled. For example, if you go to ‘Internet’ in the Notification Center, you have to press this icon again to toggle Mobile Data, Wi-Fi, and Hotspot. It feels convoluted, and there's no option to make these three options a separate toggle.

Alongside this, the colors in Android 12 lack contrast - everything looks pale compared to the vibrancy that iOS shows. But according to Android Police, it looks like Google is already aware of this, as new vibrant colors have seemingly leaked for Android 13.

See more

Giving some saturated colors across the user interface could help the overall appearance of Android. However, the Material You design we're currently seeing is essentially version 1.0 of a new look for the operating system. iOS is still seeing refinements in its flat design since 2013, so we're going to see visual improvements in Android for years to come.

2. Scrolling Screenshots for all, not some apps

Android 12 UI from Google I/O 2021

(Image credit: Google)

This feature was introduced for some apps in Android 12, where you could take a screenshot of a web page, but Android would stitch the content into one image. 

However, while it’s a useful feature, it requires developers to include a ‘View-based UI’ in the app, otherwise scrolling screenshots isn’t an option for users.

Instead, Android 13 should make this available to all apps, regardless of the current requirement. Users shouldn’t need to check whether certain features in Android are also available to certain apps, and scrolling screenshots is one of them.

3. Release the backtap gesture

A Pixel 6 in Kinda Coral, held by someone wearing a red dress

(Image credit: Google)

This first appeared in a beta version of Android 11 back in 2020, before it was removed when the final release appeared for the Pixel 4 series and other smartphones.

There’s a variant already available on Apple’s iOS 15, where you can customize a back-tap gesture on your iPhone, that could launch the Camera app or a shortcut for example.

It’s very useful for when you’re browsing another app, and you quickly want to switch to the camera app without going back to the home screen and finding its icon.

For Android, the backtap could be an easy win for users, especially as the software can be better customized compared to iOS. Imagine an Android 13 backtap where you can launch certain apps or media with a certain amount of taps, or the end result changes, depending on the app that you’re currently using.

4. Hand Off from iOS

Google Nest Mini

(Image credit: Future)

According to Android Police, this may already be coming to Android 13, mirroring a feature where you can transfer what you’re listening to on your iPhone, to a HomePod speaker for example.

Tentatively called ‘TTT’ or Tap to Transfer, you can send the media you’re either watching or listening to, towards a device that could be in your home or workplace.

With a barrage of televisions running Android, alongside smart speakers, this could work well for sending across media in an easier way from your smartphone.

5. Please fix ‘Open by Default’ feature

Setting a different clock app on Android

(Image credit: Google)

Before Android 12, you could open a file and a message box would appear, asking you if you’d like to open this in an app just once, or from then on.

It was a simple message box but it solved a purpose. But with Android 12, an ‘Open with Default’ appears instead, ridding you of the choice of using an app once.

This change has been frustrating to users, as it requires you to go deep into the Settings app to make the filetype forget to open in a certain app. For Android 13, let’s revert it back to how it was. That’s all we ask.

Read more...
15 Jan 2022

One of the coolest Microsoft Teams features is now available to everyone

The wait is finally over as Microsoft has announced that its walkie talkie feature in Microsoft Teams is now generally available.

The feature, which was first announced two years ago and has been in preview ever since, lets users of the software giant's video conferencing software use their smartphone or tablet as a walkie talkie that can work over both a cellular or wireless connection. 

While Teams' walkie talkie functionality will work on any Android smartphone by pressing and holding down an on-screen button when speaking and releasing the button to listen, it's even more useful on rugged smartphones. This is because many rugged smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy XCover 5 have a customizable button that can be mapped to Teams' walkie talkie feature so that workers won't have to unlock their phones to access push-to-talk functionality.

Teams users can now test out Microsoft's walkie talkie feature for themselves on their Android smartphones and tablets but the company has also gone ahead and brought this functionality to the Teams app for iOS.

Walkie Talkie Functionality

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Dedicated push-to-talk button

In addition to highlighting how Teams' walkie talkie feature can be used on Samsung's rugged smartphones, Microsoft has also announced an expansion of its strategic partnership with Zebra Technologies in a new blog post.

As a result, Teams' walkie talkie feature is now generally available on a wide range of Zebra mobile devices including its rugged TC-series, customer-facing EC-series and its scanning device the MC-series. However, what sets these devices apart from others is the fact that they have a dedicated push-to-talk button so that frontline workers can instantly and securely communicate with their teams with the push of a button.

In a separate blog post, corporate vice president of modern workplace verticals at Microsoft, Emma Williams explained how the company's digital walkie talkie feature is more secure than traditional radios, saying:

“This functionality, built natively into Teams, reduces the number of devices employees must carry, and lowers costs for IT. Unlike analog devices with unsecure networks, customers no longer have to worry about crosstalk or eavesdropping from outsiders. And since Walkie Talkie functions over Wi-Fi or cellular data, this capability can be used across geographic locations.”

We've also rounded up the best productivity apps, best online collaboration tools and best video conferencing software

Read more...
14 Jan 2022

Google wants secure open-source software to be the future

After attending the recent White House Open Source Software Security Summit, Google is now calling for a public-private partnership to not only fund but also staff essential open-source projects.

In a new blog post, president of global affairs and chief legal officer at both Google and Alphabet, Kent Walker laid out the search giant's plans to better secure the open-source software ecosystem.

For too long, businesses and governments have taken comfort in the assumption that open source software is generally secure due to its transparent nature. While many believe that more eyes watching can help detect and resolve problems in the open source community, some projects actually don't have many eyes on them while others have few or none at all.

To its credit, Google has been working to raise awareness of the state of open source security and the company has invested millions in developing frameworks and new protective tools. However, the Log4j vulnerability and others before it have shown that more work is needed across the ecosystem to develop new models to maintain and secure open source software.

Public-private partnership 

In his blog post, Kent proposes creating a new public-private partnership to identify a list of critical open source projects to help prioritize and allocate resources to ensure their security.

In the long term though, new ways of identifying open source software and components that may pose a system risk need to be implemented so that the level of security required can be anticipated and the appropriate resources can be provided.

At the same time, security, maintenance and testing baselines need to be established across both the public and private sector. This will help ensure that national infrastructure and other important systems can continue to rely on open source projects. These standards also should be developed through a collaborative process according to Kent with an “emphasis on frequent updates, continuous testing and verified integrity”. Fortunately, the software community has already started this work with organizations like OpenSFF working across industry to create these standards.

Now that Google has weighed in on the issue of open source security, expect other tech giants like Microsoft and Apple to propose their own ideas regarding the matter.

We've also rounded up the best open source software and the best business laptops

Read more...
14 Jan 2022

Twitter finally lets you save your Spaces to use as a podcast

If you regularly host a Twitter Spaces room, but were frustrated that you couldn’t save it for future use, Twitter has good news for you.

Back in 2020, Twitter announced the Spaces feature, where you could chat to others about any topic in a virtual room while your followers could listen in, similar to a live podcast. It’s available to use on iOS and Android where you can access it through the navigation bar, or at the top of the app if a follower is hosting one (access to Spaces when using Twitter in a web browser is still in development).

But once you were done hosting a Spaces room, there was no way to save the chat as a file and upload it to a podcast feed for those who may have missed out on the discussion.

However, there will soon be a ‘Record Spaces’ option when you’re about to chat. Once you’re finished with the Space, Twitter will hold it for 30 days, or you can download it as an audio file, which opens up many possibilities.


Analysis: One more step for Twitter Podcasts

Having a local audio file is the natural next step for Spaces. With apps such as Clubhouse offering similar features but having fallen into obscurity recently, Twitter has an opportunity to make its own mark in distributing Spaces as podcasts.

While the company has been testing Ticketed Spaces, which is a way of paying for access to Spaces in order to listen or to add to the conversation, exporting Spaces to an audio file can make the process of creating a podcast much easier for new users.

See more

Spaces offer an easy way for a discussion to be held about a certain topic, without having to set up Skype or Zoom, though you would still need to use another program to record the conversation. Spaces can cut these steps further now, with the offering of recording, but it also lowers the barrier for anyone on the social media platform to try their hand at podcasting about their favorite topic.

Users can become speakers and leaders of their own Twitter Spaces. They can be inspired to host their own Spaces to talk about other topics that they’re passionate about while meeting new followers who share the same interest.

This alone gives Twitter a big opportunity and could open up a new avenue to make Spaces a great platform for its own curated podcast library. But for many users, it could also go some way towards making the platform fun – and genuinely useful – once again.

Read more...
13 Jan 2022

Microsoft Teams will soon let you combine both your accounts so there's no escape

Switching between personal and workplace Microsoft Teams accounts could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new update to the service.

The video conferencing platform is rolling out changes that will allow users to combine business and consumer Teams accounts, hopefully putting an end to any unfortunate confusion.

Microsoft says the change will allow for much improved communication for Teams users across the world, even opening the door for personal chats whilst on a work network.

Combined Microsoft Teams

"With this update Teams users in your organization will be able to start a 1:1 or a group chat with Teams users who are using their personal accounts and vice-versa," Microsoft noted in an updated message center notification.

The feature was first announced by Microsoft back in February 2021, but has now entered the rolling out period, meaning users will be able to access it soon. 

"Teams users will be able to chat with team members who are outside their work network and have a Teams personal account," the official Microsoft 365 roadmap entry for the update added. 

"This is expanding on external access capabilities, enabling Teams users to invite for a 1:1 or group chat any other federated Teams users using an email address or phone number and remain within the security and compliance policies of their organization."

The update is coming to all Microsoft Teams desktop users around the world, so be sure to keep your program updated to the latest release.

The change is the latest in a series of Microsoft Teams updates as the firm looks to continue helping companies around the world adapt to the new age of hybrid working.

Along with video capabilities, Microsoft Teams also added chat bubbles to its online collaboration tool last year, meaning that users shouldn't miss private messages sent during a video call. Microsoft has also added this feature to group chats so that everyone can keep up with the conversations happening via text as well as those taking place in a video call at the same time, allowing everyone to view chats sent during a meeting on the front of room display in a Teams Room.

Read more...
13 Jan 2022

Google Meet aims to tear down the language barrier, but falls short

Google has rolled out an update for video conferencing software Meet that will help workers communicate more effectively with multi-lingual colleagues.

In a blog post, the company announced that its live translation feature has now entered general availability, across all Google Meet platforms.

Launched in beta last year, the feature introduces the ability to translate spoken English into foreign language captions in real-time. At launch, supported languages include French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.

Google Meet translation

Among the various opportunities brought about by the transition to remote working is the ability to recruit from an international pool of talent. However, businesses will clearly need a way to address the communication barriers this may create.

At the moment, Google is pitching the translation feature as a way to overcome disparities in language proficiency, rather than a way to facilitate communication between people who do not share a common language.

“Translated captions help make Google Meet video calls more inclusive and collaborative by removing language proficiency barriers. When meeting participants consume content in their preferred language, this helps equalize information sharing, learning, and collaboration and ensures your meetings are as effective as possible for everyone,” explained Google.

However, if the idea is taken to its logical conclusion, it’s easy to imagine the feature being extended in future to support omnidirectional translation between a variety of different languages. This way, workers could communicate freely with colleagues and partners from across the globe.

The feature as it exists today will roll out over the course of the next two weeks, but only to Google Workspace customers that subscribe to the Business Plus plan and beyond.

TechRadar Pro has asked Google whether customers on cheaper plans can expect to receive access to live translation at a later date, and whether the feature will be capable of translating other languages into English in future.

Read more...
13 Jan 2022

Firefox 96 is a boost for anyone doing video calling

Mozilla has released Firefox 96, an update to one of the most popular web browsers out there.

According to Mozilla's desktop release notes, Firefox 96 is a big win for anyone who uses the browser to make video calls, with improved noise-suppression and auto-gain-control, plus echo-cancellation, to make sure you sound as crisp and clear as possible. 

By building the video improvements right into the browser, Firefox users without the best webcams or best USB microphones should see automatic improvements as we move into year three of working from home.

Firefox for Android boost

Elsewhere, there are a bunch of technical changes, including reducing the main-thread load, which should make Firefox run that much smoother on most machines. Also includes are the usual bug fixes, such as changing how macOS users can command-click on Gmail links. 

But it isn't just desktop that gets some Mozilla love, as the Android version of Firefox 96 is set to get some cool improvements, too. As Mozilla says in the Android release notes, users can now see highlights of recently-visited websites and bookmark images have been improved. There are also the usual range of bug fixes. 

While these are fairly small changes, they make a Firefox for Android that much better and help it compete with Chrome, Brave, Opera, and other Android browser alternatives. 

The news comes shortly after Mozilla was involved in a controversy over accepting crypto donations. The company was forced to step back from its position on accepting donations via cryptocurrency following a massive backlash which included Mozilla co-founder Jamie Zawinski slamming the company.

In response, Mozilla promised it will "take action", particularly concerning its climate goals.

Read more...
13 Jan 2022

Microsoft 365 updates tackle a major elephant in the room

Microsoft has announced a range of updates for its productivity and collaboration software designed to address common challenges faced by workers in customer-facing roles.

The updates were informed by new research conducted by the firm, which suggests that frontline workers (who make up 80% of the global workforce) are too often overlooked when it comes to software deployment.

The survey found that the majority (63%) of frontline workers are excited about the opportunities technology creates, but many (55%) have had little support from their organization when it comes to adopting new tools. Meanwhile, 60% of those surveyed said their company could better prioritize culture and communication, and more than half said they did not feel valued as employees. 

Microsoft believes technology will be crucial in establishing a line of communication between upper management and staff on the ground.

New Microsoft 365 features

Since the start of the pandemic, Microsoft has worked to deliver new functionality for its various software and services in an increasingly competitive market. However, the majority of these improvements have been geared towards so-called knowledge workers, rather than employees out in the field.

In the face of this new data, the company has developed a number of updates for its Microsoft 365 suite that it hopes will go some way to addressing the imbalance.

For example, Microsoft has announced the general availability of a new feature for Microsoft Teams that allows frontline workers (and anyone else) to use their smartphone or tablet as a walkie talkie, provided they have access to Wi-Fi or mobile data.

The firm has also partnered with rugged smartphone manufacturer Zebra Technologies, which has integrated a dedicated Microsoft Teams push-to-talk button into some of its handsets.

Zebra Technologies

(Image credit: Zebra Technologies)

Separately, Microsoft Teams can now be used by frontline workers to manage scheduled appointments, providing customers with real-time updates on wait times, missed appointments and staffing delays to create a more transparent experience.

Finally, Microsoft has rolled out a number of improvements for Viva, its employee experience platform. The updates will give non-office-based workers easy access to payroll, HR and training resources, which should help businesses establish a more consistent culture.

“It’s no secret that the pandemic is reshaping work for all workers, and at a faster pace than we have ever seen,” said Emma Williams, Corporate VP at Microsoft.

“Empowering frontline workers remains essential for digital transformation. If done well, we believe technology can modernize workflows and enhance job performance while also improving workplace culture and communication.”

Read more...
13 Jan 2022

Using Gmail on iPhone should now finally be a lot easier

Google has unveiled a number of updates and upgrades for Apple devices, including a selection of new tools for Google Meet and Gmail on iPhone and iPad.

The new Google Workspace additions include a homescreen widget for Gmail, which means users will be quickly able to view, edit and reply to emails when on the move.

Rolling out now having first been announced back in November 2021, Gmail version 6.0.211226 now includes a new “Email updates” widget that gives speedy access to your messages without needing to open up the full app - useful if you're dashing to a meeting or hopping on a train. 

Gmail on the go

Google notes that the new widget will give users access to the senders and subject lines of your most recent emails right on your Home Screen.

It joins the existing “Quick email actions” homescreen item, and will also allow users the option to compose new messages immediately - and even be available in dark mode.

The other significant addition is picture-in-picture mode for Google Meet, allowing users to have multiple apps open and displaying when on a video conferencing call, which could be extremely useful for workplace users.

Going forward, iPhone and iPad users can dial in to a meeting on their device, but also be able to forward an email, share a document or just do some extra research whilst the call is continuing. Navigating outside of Google Meet will minimize the app, which can be resized or moved around the Home Screen however you like. 

"If you use Google apps to get work done on your iPhone or iPad, we’re making some improvements to help you stay organized and productive," Luke Wroblewski, Director, iOS at Google, wrote in a blog post.

"We hope you enjoy these new features...and that they help make it easier to get your work done on iOS devices."

Read more...
13 Jan 2022

Microsoft has uncovered loads of Windows 11 security threats – here’s what you need to do

Microsoft has revealed that it has discovered several serious security vulnerabilities in Windows 11, as well as other versions including Windows 10.

The revelations came as part of January 2022’s ‘Patch Tuesday’ – the day of the month that Microsoft releases a swathe of patches to fix issues in its software.

While many of the vulnerabilities, which don’t just affect new versions of Windows, but also older versions such as Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2019, were fixed with patches, six of the threats were highlighted as zero day threats.

While many security vulnerabilities are thankfully found and fixed before malicious users find and exploit them, zero day threats are vulnerabilities that are already out in the wild, which means they are particularly worrying.

In total, Microsoft announced the existence of 97 new exploits – which is certainly a troubling number. As a report in Forbes explains, Microsoft has limited the information about the zero day exploits to ensure it has time to address them before they are exploited. Microsoft believes that so far, there have not been any attacks using the vulnerabilities. Obviously, though, time is of the essence.

The zero day vulnerabilities are:

  • Critical - CVE-2021-22947 - Open Source Curl Remote Code Execution Vulnerability
  • Important - CVE-2021-36976 - Libarchive Remote Code Execution Vulnerability
  • Important - CVE-2022-21919 - Windows User Profile Service Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability
  • Important - CVE-2022-21836 - Windows Certificate Spoofing Vulnerability
  • Important - CVE-2022-21874 - Windows Security Center API Remote Code Execution Vulnerability
  • Important - CVE-2022-21839 - Windows Event Tracing Discretionary Access Control List Denial of Service Vulnerability (limited to Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019)

Of the 97 vulnerabilities, eight are labeled as ‘critical’, with 88 labeled as ‘important’. This means they are particularly dangerous, so users should make sure they are protected against them as soon as possible.

What should you do?

Microsoft’s warning is certainly troubling, but there’s no need to panic, as long as you take some precautionary steps. While the zero day threats are in the wild, they’ve not been used and Microsoft is actively working on fixes.

Meanwhile, it has also created patches for many of the other vulnerabilities. So, the best thing you can do right now is ensure that Windows 11 (or whichever version you have installed) is updated with the latest security patches.

They should download automatically, and If that’s the case you may see a prompt in the taskbar to restart your PC. You may also notice when you go to turn off your PC that there are options to ‘Update and restart’ and ‘Update and shut down’ – make sure you pick one of those.

You should also check to make sure there are no updates waiting for you. To do this, open up Settings and go to Windows Update > Check for Updates. If any are found, download and install them.

If you have any anti-virus or anti-malware software installed, make sure they are updated as well.

Hopefully Microsoft will continue to investigate and fix these vulnerabilities ASAP.

Read more...
13 Jan 2022

This one major issue with Microsoft Teams is finally being fixed

Users of Microsoft Teams may finally be able to get through a meeting without being plagued by annoying notifications pings thanks to a new update to the service.

The company has confirmed that it will soon allow users to mute notifications whilst they are in a video conferencing meeting or don't want to be disturbed.

This should mean an end to distracting notifications or alerts when you’re in the middle of an important meeting, particularly as more and more businesses embrace hybrid working.

Mute notifications in Microsoft Teams

"The current experience of receiving notifications during meetings is highly distracting and there is no easy way to turn off these notifications making it highly painful for users," Microsoft's Joao Ferreira wrote in an M365 admin post announcing the news.

"This feature will introduce a setting to help the user turn OFF notifications during meetings."

Microsoft Teams mute notifications

(Image credit: Microsoft)

If users want to allow certain notifications to come through, say if they are expecting an important email or alert, users can turn notifications on or off for a per meeting basis through the setting provided in the meeting tray.

By allowing users to specify which types of alerts they receive, the latest Teams update should help address common remote working issues that have been increasingly facing workers across the world. 

Ferreira noted that the new addition is set to begin rolling out in early February, with most users set to have it ready by mid-March 2022. It will be available worldwide to all Microsoft Teams users across desktop and web.

In order to activate the setting, users need to click on the ellipsis next to their Microsoft Teams profile picture, then select global settings -> Notifications -> Meetings. Doing so will turn off notifications for all meetings.

News of the feature first emerged back in November 2021, with Microsoft Teams enjoying a raft of useful updates since then. This includes the addition of chat bubbles so that users wouldn't miss private messages sent during a video call, both 1:1 or as part of a group call.

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

The best Steam games 2022

With all the titles constantly flooding digital game distribution services, finding the best Steam games can be difficult. There’s such an overwhelming choice – Steam’s library is composed of over 23,000 titles, after all – that finding the games that pique your interest takes a bit of extra research. Living in a golden age of gaming does have a downside.

But, that doesn’t mean you have to waste your time playing PC games you don’t like. Let us help you find the kind of titles that will not only help you make the most of your gaming PC but also properly entertain you for hours, days, and even weeks. We’ll collect the best games for Steam on this page, looking at what makes them tick, from story, gameplay, and graphics to the overall gaming experience.

We won’t limit our picks to one style either. Maybe you’re in the mood to play with friends in the best co-op PC games or meet new ones in the best MMO games. Or, maybe you prefer to explore on your own in the best open world games. Regardless, we have something for you. So, read on and prepare to expand your Steam game library to at least one more exciting adventure.

Resident Evil 8's Lady Alcina Dimitrescu and her daughters

Resident Evil 8 keeps everything that made the original games so engaging and frightening. (Image credit: CAPCOM Co., Ltd)

Resident Evil 8

The newest entry in this terrifying series, Resident Evil 8 moves away from just zombies by putting you, as Ethan Winters, in the middle of a village filled with all sorts of mutated enemies to find his kidnapped daughter. Whether it’s facing off against werewolf-like creatures or running away because you’ve run out of ammunition, the newest Resident Evil keeps everything that made the original games so engaging and frightening while placing you in an exotic setting reminiscent of a snow-covered Trannsylvania. And, since this game is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7, if you’ve been keeping up with the series, you’ll want to give this a go. Just make sure to turn the lights off first.

Colt battling enemies in Deathloop

Breaking a time loop is more challenging than ever with Deathloop. (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Deathloop

Groundhog Day has never been so fun. Deathloop is kind of like the 90s movie, but in game form. It’s a stylish first-person shooter from Arkane Lyon with a fun little twist and some strategy. You play as Colt, an assassin who’s stuck in a time loop and on an island with a rival. And, your objective is to break that time loop. Sounds easy enough? Not quite, as you need to kill eight key targets before the day ends and starts over again. Luckily, every new cycle offers an opportunity to explore new paths, acquire new weapons and abilities, and figure out new strategies until you find the best way to break the loop.

Deltarune Chapter 2's Kris crossing the road, narrowly avoiding red cars

In Deltarune Chapter 2, Kris travels to the “Dark World” to save the world. (Image credit: tobyfox)

Deltarune Chapter 2

Not every great game needs to take advantage of ray tracing to be engaging. Deltarune Chapter 2, just like its developer’s previous game, Undertale, has more in common with the best RPGs to grace The Nintendo systems of the 90’s with its top-down point of view and pixelated graphics than the big AAA titles of today. You play as a human named Kris who travels to the “Dark World” to save the world. But, it’s more than just a typical RPG as the gameplay will sometimes change, including puzzles and bullet hell gameplay. The best part is that the first and second chapters are free.

Into the Breach block grid, battling enemies near a snowy mountain range

Into the Breach is moreish, smart and deceivingly deep. (Image credit: Subset Games)

Into the Breach

Not every top Steam game is an epic open world title that will set you back $60 on PS4 and Xbox One. Into the Breach is a sophisticated sci-fi strategy blast that you can play on your lunch break at work. 

It is made by the team behind Faster than Light, still one of our favourite PC games of the last decade. And for the handheld gaming veterans out there, there are shades of Advance Wars to it too.

Earth has been attacked – and almost occupied – by aliens. In Into the Breach, you control groups of mechs sent from the future to reverse this fate. That may sound like a mind-bending premise, but it actually proves that the plot doesn’t matter too much sometimes. We know Earth will come out tops, it’s just a matter of how.

Each encounter takes in an 8x8 block grid, your battlefield. Play unfolds in turns, and your mechs have to stop aliens from obliterating too many of the field’s buildings and outposts. It has the tactical purity of chess. As you play, you can upgrade your mechs to improve your chances. 

Like FTL, Into the Breach is moreish, smart and deceivingly deep. 

Colony on the Red Planet in Surviving Mars

Surviving Mars' survivalist approach to “city” building is absorbing. (Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Surviving Mars

Some screenshots make Surviving Mars look like The Sims: Red Planet edition. However, this best steam game is, in fact, more like Sim City meets The Martian. You build an outpost on a barren patch of Mars, and have to keep it running to avoid your colonists from dying on the planet’s harsh surface. And, it’s harder than it sounds. 

That is, while mismanaging resources in Sim City or Civilization may make your inhabitants angry or lower your income, in Surviving Mars it can cause a chain reaction that sees life support systems fail. You’ll hear “a colonist has died”, and be left scrambling to fix the problem before other inhabitants start dying like bubbles popping as they touch the ground. 

Surviving Mars’s interface leaves something to be desired, but its survivalist approach to “city” building is absorbing.

Final Fantasy XV characters battling a monster

Final Fantasy XV is somewhat different from the FF games of old. (Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy XV

After the massive multiplayer Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix finally got back to their series’ single player roots with Final Fantasy XV. It came to PS4 in late 2016, but was only ported to PC in March 2018. However, you do get all the DLC released on the consoles and, if your PC is beefy enough, you’ll experience better frame rates.

Final Fantasy XV is somewhat different from the FF games of old. You travel around an open world, often by car, packed with Americana-style buildings, all your companions are human and the combat plays out in real time, not as turns. Still, you can tell this is a Final Fantasy game just by catching a 15-second clip of it in action.

May and Cody getting through a challenge in It Takes Two

Overcome challenges together as husband and wife getting divorced in It Takes Two. (Image credit: Electronic Arts)

It Takes Two

It Takes Two is more than just a Mary Kate and Ashley classic from the 90’s. It’s a new co-op platformer from EA where every level is unique. You might be taking on swarms of wasps, navigating an environment using magnets, or manipulating time. Whatever you’re doing, it will be something new.

In It Takes Two, you control either May or Cody, parents who have decided to divorce at the beginning of the game. In a magical twist of fate, their daughter Rose accidentally turns them into dolls who have to overcome challenges conceived by Dr. Hakim, a talking self-help book attempting to bring May and Cody back together.

A cyclist performing a trick mid-air in Descenders

A mix of mobile game style and merciless old-school progression mechanics gives Descenders a fresh feel. (Image credit: No More Robots)

Descenders

The PC tends to get linked with the kind of games that sit you down – for hours on end until your eyes are red and part of you start to regret your life choices. However, it isn’t always that way. 

With Descenders, you can play in quick blasts. If you can drag yourself away from its moreish-ness, anyway. You’re a downhill free rider who has to get down procedurally generated courses with as much style as possible, preferably using a gamepad. It might remind you of the heyday of Tony Hawk games, or snowboard console classic SSX. 

The use of generated “tracks” means you can’t master courses, which means that it’s the mastery of the bike’s physics you need to be shooting for. A career mode pits you against a series of courses in the same style of environment, each with objectives. Finish the “boss course,” and you unlock a new terrain. But you have limited lives for the whole run. A mix of mobile game style and merciless old-school progression mechanics gives Descenders a fresh feel, just one of the many reasons why it’s made our best steam game list.

Driving on a palm-lined road with Hollywood-inspired hills at a distance in American Truck Simulator

There’s a business side to American Truck Simulator that gives it depth. (Image credit: SCS Software)

American Truck Simulator

Not every game has to be about destroying aliens or gunning down unnamed soldiers. For instance, American Truck Simulator, one of the best steam games to play in 2019, feels like mindfulness meditation next to those games.

You drive a big 18-wheeler-style truck over the long highways of the US, transporting cargo from A to B. Breaking the traffic codes doesn’t end in a GTA-style police chase, just a fine. This is the sort of game you can put on like cozy slippers after a long day at work. 

Yet there’s also a business side to it, giving it depth. You start as a lowly contractor, but can earn enough money to build your own shipping empire.

A lit house and a water mill in Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity is a challenging, slightly retro-flavoured RPG. (Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Pillars of Eternity

PC gamers who have been playing since the ‘90s might remember all the fuss surrounding the Baldur’s Gate titles. In fact, some of their most loyal fans still get teary-eyed reminiscing about their favorite side characters. 

Isometric role-playing games like Baldur’s Gate don’t cut it in the AAA world anymore. However, Pillars of Eternity brings back the spirit of those games to the Steam crowd. This is a challenging, slightly retro-flavoured RPG in which you control a band of classic fantasy-style adventurers. It’s made by Obsidian, the team behind Fallout: New Vegas. Pillars of Eternity II is on the horizon too. 

If you like your RPGs fantasy-themed, also consider Torment: Tides of Numenera.

A character crossing a bridge in Legend of Grimrock II

Legend of Grimrock II is a dungeon crawler where you move in blocks. (Image credit: Almost Human)

Legend of Grimrock II

Another throwback to a style of game that has all but disappeared, Legend of Grimrock 2 is a dungeon crawler where you move in blocks, as opposed to freely. Why would you want that? It changes your relationship with the environment, making it feel more like an intricate puzzle instead of an open world a texture artist had been let loose on. 

There are an awful lot of actual puzzles involved here too, in-between the bouts of classic "Dungeons & Dragons" style combat encounters. Plus, as retro as the play style is, Legend of Grimrock 2 looks incredible, with many outdoors areas to prevent you from getting bogged down in dimly-lit dungeons.

Shooting up enemies in a long hallway in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

PUBG remains one of the most fun shooters on the market in 2019. (Image credit: PUBG Corporation)

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

When it comes to in-vogue games, few titles continue to capture the zeitgeist (and fill it full of bullet holes) the way PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds does. It may have one of the worst acronyms ever, but that hasn’t stopped PUBG from putting the ‘battle royale’ subgenre on the map and turning itself into a phenomenon in the process. Sure, there’s a lot of hype still surrounding it, but the game behind all the coverage and Twitch fascination is still one of the most addictive on Steam, as well as one of the best steam games this 2019.

That simple premise – parachute into a map with no gear, scavenge for weapons and armour, and fight for survival with a single life in a continually shrinking map – is still engrossing, even if it has a few too many bugs. Whether you’re teaming up with friends or braving its maps by your lonesome, PUBG remains one of the most fun shooters on the market in 2019.

A knight with his weapon drawn, with a couple of other knights on horseback behind him

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is one of the latest releases on our best Steam games list. (Image credit: Deep Silver)

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

One of the latest releases on our best Steam games list, Kingdom Come: Deliverance boasts an experience that’s both reassuringly familiar and deeply alien. Set in a fictional Medieval Europe, it’s a first-person RPG where dialogue choices mold your world as much as your ability to problem solve and your skills in melee combat. It’s a game of unbelievable freedom, allowing you to carve a path through the Dark Ages however you see fit.

You might get off your face on schnapps and get in a fight with the town drunk. You may start filling your pockets with the gold of unsuspecting townsfolk, Thief-style, or stain your blade with blood in the battlefield. Part Elder Scrolls, part Dark Souls, part something else entirely, it’s an action-RPG that punishes as much as it empowers. It also runs best on PC (with the right specs, obviously) so get it on the download pronto.

Two enemies with their weapons drawn in Rainbow Six: Siege

Rainbow Six: Siege is one of those success stories that keeps on succeeding. (Image credit: Ubisoft)

Rainbow Six: Siege

Who knew, way back in 2015, that a Tom Clancy game would become one of the industry’s biggest success stories. But here we are, four years later, with a game that has over 25 million registered players and in its fourth year of consecutive content updates as well as premium bells and whistles. Rainbow Six: Siege is one of those success stories that keeps on succeeding, and for one very important yet simple reason: it’s fun as hell to play.

Paring back the Rainbow Six formula to its roots - two teams fight in the same map, one protecting an objective while the other attacking and fighting their way in - no two matches in Siege are ever the same. You’ll be barricading doors, breaching through walls, blasting through ceilings and building an operator that’s attuned to your playstyle. It might not be groundbreaking. However, add in the limited time Outbreak mode (think Siege plus zombies), and you’ve got one of Steam’s most complete packages.

Madeline atop a tall tower in Celeste

Celeste is one of the most unforgettable games we’ve come across in many years. (Image credit: Matt Makes Games)

Celeste

From the indie team that gave us TowerFall and TowerFall Ascension comes one of the most rewarding pixel platformers in years. As you climb the titular mountain, flame-haired heroine Madeline battles her innermost demons just as much as the harsh and dangerous conditions around her. In its simplest form, Celeste is a tight, 2D, twitch-style platformer, but in reality it’s one of the most unforgettable games we’ve come across in many years.

As poignant in narrative as it is unforgiving in gameplay, Celeste has over 700 ‘scenes’ to traverse, a myriad of secrets to uncover and a story that will grip you as much as the muscle-memory building formula of its platforming. For a game built around the simple mechanics of jump, air-dash and climb, there’s an incredible amount of depth to be found as you claw your way to the summit in more ways than one, which is why it warrants a spot on our best steam games list.

Characters in front of a tall wooden gate door in Divinity: Original Sin 2

Divinity: Original Sin 2’s secret sauce is the complexity of its combat. (Image credit: Larian Studios)

Divinity: Original Sin 2

When Divinity: Original Sin 2 was released in 2017, it had quite the legacy to live up to, that of its predecessor, which incidentally happens to be one of the most accomplished RPGs of all time. Then what does developer Larian Studios do? It only goes and follows it up with one of the most important additions to the genre in years. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an enthralling fantasy world with a deep and complex combat model and one of the most riveting stories you’ll experience outside of a 1,000 page tome.

The big selling point, and the main ingredient of Divinity: Original Sin 2’s secret sauce, is the complexity of its combat. You control a party of characters together with your own custom avatar, and utilize each one individually in battle. With countless skills and attributes to mix and match, the breadth of tactics available makes this a daunting yet deeply rewarding way to test your RPG abilities.

Spaceships shooting one another next to a star and a planet in Stellaris

There’s a wealth of sci-fi lore and mechanics to delve into with Stellaris. (Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Stellaris

The grand and operatic strategy genre has given us some true classics on PC, experiences that consoles have consistently failed to duplicate. From Crusader Kings to Europa Universalis, these are games with bucket loads of tactics and guile. 

Well, it just so happens the developer of those very games has taken that deeply immersive concept and put it in the dark ocean of space. Enter Stellaris, an evolution of the genre that takes the space exploration of EVE Online and Mass Effect and hits the hyperdrive button.

You’ll traverse through countless of procedural galaxies, filled with thousands of planets and a myriad of alien species, each one possessing unique traits, economies and social strata. Whether it’s the power (and consistent balancing act) of interstellar diplomacy or the deep customisation of starship designs, there’s a wealth of sci-fi lore and mechanics to delve into with Stellaris.

Characters lined up for battle on what looks like castle grounds in Dota 2

Dota 2 is still one of the most addictive titles on Steam. (Image credit: Valve Corporation)

Dota 2

By far one of the oldest games on the list - well, that is if you consider 2013 old - Valve’s MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), Dota 2, is still one of the most addictive titles on Steam. It’s also the only game on this list that’s free-to-play, so you don’t even need to have a healthy bank balance to enjoy its addictive battles. Age aside, Valve has been constantly updating and overhauling the game since launch, making it one of the most evolved MOBAs on the market.

If you’ve never played it before, it’s a simple yet intoxicating setup: two teams of five players face off in a large map. Each one is defending a base with an ‘Ancient’ inside that must be protected at all costs. Find your opponent’s base and raze it to the ground to win. Anticipate to experience brilliant hero v hero showdowns, brutal ambushes, tactical plays and nonstop action.

Cuphead characters battling enemies in a castle

Brutal and beautiful in equal measure, Cuphead is a must have Steam title. (Image credit: StudioMDHR)

Cuphead

Run and gun platformers have carved a niche out for themselves on mobile, but they’re few and far between on PC. Luckily, this one was built to be a Microsoft exclusive with Xbox One in mind and the result is one of the most unique gaming experiences you’ll ever come across. Intended to capture the look and atmosphere of 1930s cartoons, Cuphead places you in the shoes of the titular hero and tasks you with battling across three distinct worlds and bosses that will capture your imagination with their ingenuity that crush your resolve with their difficulty.

Recommending a notoriously tough game might sound counter-intuitive, but the steep difficulty curve is part of its appeal. With a distinctive soundtrack and those standout visuals at your side, you’ll earn every stage clearance like a piece of territory in a war, each victory feeling that much more satisfying. Brutal and beautiful in equal measure, Cuphead is a must have Steam title.

Subnautica character holding a sea creature with a few other sea creatures in front of them

Subnautica is a survival game set deep in the ocean on an alien world. (Image credit: Unknown World Entertainment)

Subnautica

Another somewhat fresh release on this list, Subnautica has already made waves (pardon the pun) despite having only dropped in January of this year. A survival game set deep in the ocean on an alien world, its unique twist on the classic template makes for a game that’s both entrancing to watch and challenging in its many interconnected mechanics. You’ll explore shallow reefs, dangerous trenches on the seabed and everything in between, all the while managing your precious oxygen supply.

Oh, and there’s an entire ecosystem of alien marine life to contend with. Plenty of these fishy and mammalian critters want to add you to their menu, so you’ll need to outsmart and avoid them while scavenging for resources to build new equipment and tools. Like all the best survival games, the very best materials lie in the most dangerous of places. Do you dare swim deep enough to find them?

A soldier in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looking at an old school theater, some barricades and a few Nazi flags

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus dials up the violence and the depth of storytelling. (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

With so many multiplayer shooters sharing the spolight in this feature, it seemed high time to pay homage to one of the best single-player FPS games ever made.

MachineGames gave Wolfenstein a bloody, alt-history revival in the form of 2014’s The New Order, so it had its work cut out for it when it came to bettering all that visceral Nazi slaying. Then along comes 2017’s The New Colossus, dialing up the violence and the depth of storytelling that it would make most Call Of Duty titles look at the floor in humiliation.

What makes The New Colossus so vital is how it doesn’t stray from its formula, but polishes and expands on it in almost every way. Bigger and more challenging bosses; intense set-pieces; myriad weapons that spit glorious death; a story that asks far more questions and presents some bold answers. It’s also rock hard, and consistently unforgiving, so lock and load at your peril...

Character shooting a monster in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

You’d be crazy not to add Resident Evil 7: Biohazard to your Steam library. (Image credit: Capcom)

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard 

It’s not often that a franchise as significant as Resident Evil gets a new lease of life – especially when you consider the zombie-loving license had fallen into a lifeless parody over the past decade – but here we are with a truly terrifying horror game with the words ‘Resident Evil’ in the title. What a world, eh?

While us PC folk aren’t allowed to scare ourselves half to death in VR yet (RE7 is a PSVR at the moment), that doesn’t mean it’s any less frightening. Dropping the third-person perspective that’s felt tired and rote for awhile now, RE7 embraces the first-person view that’s helped Outlast and company re-energize the horror genre, and boy does it make for one chilling 8-10 hour scare fest.

With Capcom’s big budget, a creepy swamp setting (honestly, just go with it) and a storyline that feeds back into the series’ winding mythology, you’d be crazy not to add this to your Steam library.

A battle underway next to a growing city in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

Civilization VI gives you more freedom and control than ever. (Image credit: 2K Games)

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

How could we make this list of games to play on Steam and not include the most recent offering from the master of turn-based strategy and tactical simulation? The Civilization series has gone through many forms over the years, but the sixth entry takes all the best bits from those earlier incarnations, smooths off the edges and serves up one of the most rewarding turn-based video games ever made.

There’s nothing quite like building a nation from a fledgling settlement and nurturing it into a worldwide powerhouse, and Civilization VI gives you more freedom and control than ever. Eliminating the pre-set paths that hampered the still stellar Civ V, Civ VI transforms into a landscape that rewards intrepid explorers and self-assured conquerors with the opportunity to expand their budding society with new technologies and alliances. Sid Meier’s name alone is part of PC gaming’s lofty heritage, so owning this little doozy is a no-brainer.

A vendor asking how she can be of assistance in Undertale

Undertale weaves all the best elements from the ever-evolving RPG genre into world built on choice, consequence and compassion. (Image credit: Toby Fox)

Undertale

Undertale is one of those games that stays with you. A work of digital art whose charm and creativity never fails to keep its edge, no matter of how many times you play it through. And considering just how many innocuous JRPGs are out there right now, that’s a pretty extraordinary feat in unto itself.

So why is Undertale so superb? It takes all the best elements from the ever-evolving RPG genre and weaves a world built on choice, consequence and compassion. As a child dropped into an underground world filled with terrors, you’ll have to face a whole host of monsters to make it home. How you face them and what choices you make, define your journey. 

And its Telltale-esque consequence system doesn’t just extend to dialogue choices – you can spare monsters after a fight, forging possible crucial alliances for later in the game. You can even end fights by telling your opponent jokes. It’s a game of such warm and pleasant quality you’d almost believe it was a JRPG from the earliest heyday of the genre.

An outdoor feast in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

There are just so many virtues The Witcher 3 has to its name. (Image credit: CD Projekt)

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

For years, one game sat atop the dark and misty mountain of action-RPGs. Skyrim was its name, and no other franchise, be it Dragon Age or Dark Souls, could even come close to breaking its iron-clad grip upon the genre. Then along came Geralt of Rivia, riding atop The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with a confident swagger, ready to give The Elder Scrolls a good thrashing.

If you’re looking for a game that strikes a perfect balance between length of play (you could easily spend 100+ hours across its unbelievably diverse map – one that’s a good 20% bigger than poor old Skyrim) and sheer quality, then The Witcher 3 is a must. There are just so many virtues The Witcher 3 has to its name. Brilliant writing, memorable quests, truly challenging beasts and a pair of DLC expansions (Hearts of Stone, and Blood and Wine) make this one of the best games of this or any other generation.

Limbo running on what looks like a rooftop on Inside

There’s a reason Inside won many a GOTY award in 2016. (Image credit: Playdead)

Inside

Inside will break your heart. Fair warning. If you’re not off-putted by that, then see it rather as a mystery to be solved scene by heart-wrenching scene. Created by the same studio that made the wonderful 2.5D platformer Limbo – you know, the one about a little boy stuck in a nightmare world where a giant spider chases him endlessly – it should come as a huge shock to learn that Inside will leave you just as tearful as its predecessor.

Thing is, Inside is a brilliant piece of art. Without a scrap of dialogue, you’ll explore a world in a similar platforming vein as Limbo, overcoming various ingenious environmental puzzles and evading both the flashlights of an oppressive government and the shadow of a conspiracy that’s clearly not going to end well.

But it’s worth every second. There’s a reason it won many a GOTY award in 2016, so you’d be a fool not to add this to your Steam library. Just remember to pack a few tissues.

Two cars

Rocket League boasts fine-tuned physics and a larger focus on multiplayer. (Image credit: Psyonix)

Rocket League

Once upon a time there was a little game on PlayStation 3 called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars. It was all about using remote control-esque cars to knock a giant football around a makeshift pitch. Thing is, no one played it and the game slowly faded into obscurity.

Then Rocket League came along, which was fundamentally the same thing, albeit with fine-tuned physics and a larger focus on multiplayer. One trip into PlayStation 4’s PS Plus lineup later and the game went supernova.

And with good reason, too. It’s a modest concept but it just works – it’s a place where skill shines through as you boost your little RC car and hit the motorized equivalent of a bicycle kick. It’s magnificent, offering one of the best ways to play online (whether with friends or a bunch of strangers). Come on, who doesn’t want to spend their evening chasing a football with a car? FIFA? Pfft.

A robot inside a factory in Portal 2

Portal 2 manages to take a brilliant recipe and somehow make it even more delicious. (Image credit: Valve Corporation)

Portal 2

Portal, back in its day, was groundbreaking. Sure, it sounds like we’re filling out boots with hyperbole, but back in 2007 all those portals, companion cubes and sociopathic AIs were blowing our minds over and over. Then Portal 2 came along and made the original look like a crossword puzzle in The Sun.

Okay, the first Portal is still remarkable, but Portal 2 took a truly revolutionary concept and twisted it into something new. Everything in this game works without a hitch - the ebb and flow of its story, the growing difficulty of the puzzles and the new ways you’re forced to make your mind think with portals. It’s even got Stephen Merchant and JK Simmons in it!

Portal 2 manages to take a brilliant recipe and somehow make it even more delicious, sprinkling in all new depths of platforming and puzzle flavour. If you haven’t played it, buy it now. If you have, play it again.

A wharf with a boat house and some boats in Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley's pixelated retro graphics, unique soundtrack and kooky characters make for a relaxed and fun game. (Image credit: Chucklefish / ConcernedApe)

Stardew Valley

The incredibly charming Stardew Valley is an indie farming RPG which sees you moving from the bustling city to your grandfather's old, run-down farm near sleepy Pelican Town. You’ll get to uncover the secrets of the mysterious town while growing a thriving farming empire.

Stardew Valley's pixelated retro graphics, unique soundtrack and kooky characters make for a relaxed and fun game which combines elements such as farming simulation, adventure, dating simulation and crafting.

Get ready to become emotionally attached because once you step foot in Pelican Town, it's hard to ever leave.

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this super annoying flaw

Being plagued by annoying notifications pings whilst on a call may soon finally be at an end for users of Microsoft Teams.

The company has confirmed that it will soon allow users to mute notifications whilst they are in a video conferencing meeting or don't want to be disturbed.

This should mean an end to distracting notifications or alerts when you’re in the middle of an important meeting, particularly as more and more businesses embrace hybrid working.

No more notifications

"The current experience of receiving notifications during meetings is highly distracting and there is no easy way to turn off these notifications making it highly painful for users," Microsoft's Joao Ferreira wrote in an M365 admin post announcing the news.

"This feature will introduce a setting to help the user turn OFF notifications during meetings."

In order to activate the setting, users need to click on the ellipsis next to their Microsoft Teams profile picture, then select global settings -> Notifications -> Meetings. Doing so will turn off notifications for all meetings.

Microsoft Teams mute notifications

(Image credit: Microsoft)

If users want to allow certain notifications to come through, say if they are expecting an important email or alert, users can turn notifications on or off for a per meeting basis through the setting provided in the meeting tray.

By allowing users to specify which types of alerts they receive, the latest Teams update should help address common remote working issues that have been increasingly facing workers across the world. 

Ferreira noted that the feature is set to begin rolling out in early February, with most users set to have it ready by mid-March 2022. It will be available worldwide to all Microsoft Teams users across desktop and web.

News of the feature first emerged back in November 2021, with Microsoft Teams enjoying a raft of useful updates since then. This includes the addition of chat bubbles so that users wouldn't miss private messages sent during a video call, both 1:1 or as part of a group call.

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

New GoDaddy tools let microbuisnesses get even more creative online

Top domain registrar and web hosting company GoDaddy has launched a new suite of creative tools for microbusinesses looking to ramp up their online presence.

GoDaddy Studio includes a range of features for smaller businesses to create branded content such as promotions, logos, business announcements, ads and social media posts.

Similar to Canva’s design app, GoDaddy’s new tools also allow businesses to layer videos over images to create content for platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, as well as in email marketing campaigns.  

Content is key

GoDaddy boasts that its tools are built for use by non-designers, with a selection of templates and a library of images and graphics. 

Studio also gives content creators the ability to remove backgrounds from images to help them create and customize product shots.

Ben Law, Head of UK and Ireland, GoDaddy, said: “In an increasingly digital world, it’s crucial for microbusiness owners to have eye-catching and compelling branded content that helps them stand out against competitors.

“GoDaddy Studio caters to that need by simplifying the process of creating content, and providing all the necessary tools and templates in one place. GoDaddy Studio helps entrepreneurs realise the creative vision for their brand and connect more effectively with customers.”

The GoDaddy Studio suite of tools is fully integrated with all GoDaddy Websites + Marketing plans, which include features for social media and email marketing, as well as ecommerce platforms to sell products and services. The new tools are also available as an app on the Apple and Google App Stores.

This is one of several content creating tools offered by GoDaddy through its GoDaddy Websites + Marketing platform. The web hosting provider also recently expanded its partnership with video hosting provider Vimeo, allowing customers to create and share high quality videos. 

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

The chip shortage may finally be easing for PC shoppers

The chip shortage that’s been plaguing the IT industry for almost two years may be easing for PC shoppers, new research has claimed.

Market analysts TrendForce says that starting from November 2021, material shortages for PCs and laptops have been “partially alleviated”. As a result, the shipment volume of PC ODMs has been in an upward trajectory in the fourth quarter of 2021. 

Furthermore, the impact of under/oversupply of materials on end PCs and notebooks is “relatively minor”, the report states. With the exception of SSD PCIe 3.0 controller, which remains in short supply, current supply squeezes are due mostly to delays in the transition to Intel’s new platform.

Mobile components in short supply

As things stand now, the delivery cycle is anywhere between 8 and 12 weeks, while the supply shortages of Type C IC, WiFi, and PMIC seem to be “gradually abating”. 

Consequently, TrendForce expects notebook shipments from ODM brands in the first quarter of 2022 to “only” decrease by 5.1%. To put things into context, Q1 is traditionally part of the off-season cycle, so the slowdown in demand momentum is expected.

TrendForce has also analyzed the mobile phone market, saying material shortages have “gradually eased” from H22021, in part due to the discretionary adjustment of mobile phone specifications (brands can adjust their specifications and configurations based on materials available on the wider market). 

Right now, four key components are in short supply: 4G SoC, OLED DDIC/Touch IC, PMIC and A+G Sensor. When it comes to production in Q1 2022, TrendForce doesn’t expect things to change much, compared with Q4 2021. 

The final quarter of last year has had a “disappointing holiday demand”, resulting in brands needing to adjust the distributed inventory level of finished products. Production performance in Q1 2022 is expected to fall 13%, compared to Q4 2021.

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

The Kindle is back to its lowest price ever - one we haven't seen for over a year

Fancy kicking off 2022 with a Kindle to get into a new reading habit? Well, now you can do so for even less as the Amazon Kindle is now available for only £44.99 (was £69.99) – that's the cheapest it's ever been in the UK.

The last time we saw a Kindle deal this good was over a year ago back during 2020's Amazon Prime Day. It's been £49.99 a handful of times since then but never matched that record low - until now. If you're looking to bag yourself the affordable entry-level reader for less this one's definitely worth taking full advantage of.

We will say that the more frequent readers out there may want to consider the Kindle Paperwhite for its sharper display and adjustable warm-lighting - two additions that give an improved reading experience in brighter or darker environments. However, for those after what we consider to be one of the best ereaders while sticking to a smaller budget, this current Kindle deal is unbeatable.

Amazon Kindle at its lowest price yet

Kindle: £69.99 £44.99 at Amazon
Save £25
– Today's price on the entry-level reader at Amazon is a match for the lowest ever and a deal we haven't seen in the UK since way back in 2020. The basic Kindle comes with all the basic features you need for a comfortable reading experience including a front light, glare-free display, and week-long battery life.

As well as this best-ever Kindle deal, a couple of other Amazon Devices have popped up on sale today, such as the third and fourth generation Echo Dot. Neither of these is reduced to an all-time low, but they are only off by a matter of pounds. For example, the Echo Dot (4th Gen) is now £29.99 at Amazon and was previously just a little less at £24.99 during Amazon Prime Day. You can find all of the offers of these devices and more in Amazon's Daily Deals - or just below.

More Amazon Devices deals

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

Facebook wants to build the biggest data center in this European nation

Facebook is looking to build its largest European data center yet, but its choice of the location, as well as the methods it used to try and obtain the real estate, has resulted in public backlash and even a few resignations.

A data center is at the heart of cloud storage, as that is where people (or in this particular case, Facebook) using online services, would store the data they generate.

As reported in an in-depth piece by BuzzFeed News, Facebook has set its gaze on 166 hectares of land in Zeewolde, a small, and relatively new village in the province of Flevoland, The Netherlands.

Origins

The entire province was once a shallow brackish marsh, before being transformed into fertile land through 60 years of damming of an inlet of the North Sea.

Facebook chose this location, according to the report, for multiple reasons, including The Netherlands being one of the biggest tax havens on the planet, being the landing point for a “bundle of transatlantic undersea telecommunication cables”, as well as home to one of Europe’s biggest internet exchanges.

When the local community found out the municipality voted in favor of selling the piece of land, an equivalent of half of New York’s Central Park, to Facebook for a cloud computing project, they were stunned. But here’s the kicker - the local councilors who voted (11 - 8  in favor) - were also stunned. The company that they had been negotiating with was not Facebook, or Meta for that matter. 

It was called Tulip. 

Negotiating with Tulip

As it turns out, Facebook registered a front company to keep its interest in this real estate a secret, in order to minimize public scrutiny and backlash. 

Facebook said it did so to eliminate any potential bias from the councilors - but it still faced a major public backlash. Besides refusing the idea of having fertile land turned into concrete and glass, the public also opposes the idea of having such a large data center sucking up hard-earned green energy for the benefit of someone else, rather than the local community. 

The problem of energy consumption seems to be a major one, as well. Most of the municipality’s energy comes from roughly 400 windmills, erected in the outskirts of the town. Estimates are, Facebook’s data center would use twice the energy used by the entire town, which is not only a problem in itself, but also because the company would need to build additional windmills.

One of the councilors that voted against selling the land to Facebook estimates that additional 140 windmills would need to be built. “So where do we put them? Nobody knows,” he said.

Another councilor, who warned his party that the negotiations carried "unspecified conflicts of interest", was allegedly forced by his peers to resign.

But Facebook isn’t backing down. The report claims that it even asked the Dutch government to designate the data center project as a matter of national importance. 

For now, the sale of the land has been slown down, thanks to community backlash. A spokesperson for the country’s real estate agency told the publication the land would be sold “only if a set of mandatory sustainability requirements were met.”

Via: BuzzFeed News

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

WordPress vulnerabilities more than doubled last year

Security vulnerabilities affecting different WordPress plugins saw a 142% increase in 2021 compared to the year before, experts have revealed.

Analyzing the state of the WordPress ecosystem, which includes some 58,000 free plugins, as well as “tens of thousands” more available for purchase, Risk Based Security say the spike in the vulnerabilities to hit 2,240 is “alarming”.

However, what’s even more concerning, is the exploitability of these vulnerabilities. Of all the known flaws, more than three-quarters (77%) are exploitable (have known public exploits). 

Addressing the biggest threats first

While the majority of these flaws are exploitable, the average CVSSv2 score for all of them is 5.5, which creates a potential problem. Most organizations tend to deprioritize vulnerabilities with a severity score less than 7.0, which is not something they should do.

Of the vulnerabilities with known exploits, 7,592 are remotely exploitable, 7,993 have a public exploit, while 4,797 have a public exploit, but no CVE ID. For organizations relying on CVE/NVD, this is particularly concerning, as they’ll be unaware of 60% of issues with known public exploits.

“To fully understand the impact of these vulnerabilities, organizations will need to adopt a risk-based approach,” the researchers conclude. “Although some WordPress plugins claim to have over 500,000 installs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all enterprises use them. Security teams will need to have knowledge of their assets, comprehensive vulnerability intelligence for all known issues, and detailed metadata, that allows them to examine factors like exploitability, to then contextualize the risk it poses to their environment.”

When triaging the threats, security pros should start with remotely exploitable ones first, then move on to those with a public exploit and have a known solution. If WordPress plugin issues affect important assets, these should be triaged first. 

“By remediating these types of issues, organizations can best protect themselves against potential attacks while saving time since solution data is available. This risk-based approach will prove to be more effective than traditional Vulnerability Management models based on severity,” the researchers conclude.

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

The Logitech Litra Glow could make even a cheap webcam look incredible

Logitech is well known for making some of the best webcams on the market, but its latest product announcement is actually something to improve the quality of your camera footage rather than another webcam model itself. 

The Litra Glow is a lighting solution that can be mounted onto your laptop or desktop monitor just like a webcam, and is designed to softly illuminate your face in a similar way to professional studio lighting. It joins the Logitech for Creator's lineup, a list of products designed to help content creators improve the quality of their streams, videos and general broadcasting, and has an official MSRP of $59.99 / £59.99 / AU$89.95.

Having insufficient lighting can cause even the most expensive webcams marketed towards professional content creators to look grainy and low quality because the sensor within the camera will struggle to capture a decent image without enough light in the environment.

Much in the way that a photography studio will be equipped with fancy DSLR cameras, they'll also be set up with a lot of lighting kit to illuminate the subject. Simply put, your camera only does half the work, so ensuring you're well lit will greatly improve the quality of even a cheap webcam with low resolution, removing things like background noise (the static-like 'grain' that appears when a camera is struggling with a poorly lit shot) and freeing up some of the exposure time to instead maintain a high framerate.

Logitech isn't the only brand to have introduced a lighting solution to complement other broadcasting equipment, with Razer having released the official Razer Ring Light to use with its Razer Kiyo webcam line, and Elgato having its own ring light, as well as the Key Light and Key Light Air.

What makes this different is that most of the other offerings on the market require a dedicated stand or tripod to set up behind your display, while the Litra Glow has the same mount style as an actual webcam, allowing it to rest on top of your monitor next to your camera. If that doesn't suit then it is possible to mount it onto a standard tripod, but the option to keep your desk clear is a great benefit to remote workers looking to improve their webcam quality in meetings without causing additional clutter.

We won't know how well it performs against other options on the market until it gets tested for a full review, but the bases of providing more light to your filming environments is a sure-fire way of getting a boost to your webcam and camera quality without having to ever mess with your hardware settings.


Analysis: Office equipment could learn a few things

Drag streamer Tonzy using the Logitech Litra Glow

(Image credit: Logitech)

I have my doubts that offices will be adopting webcam lighting solutions any time soon, but remote and home workers should look into products like the Litra Glow if they have the cash to spare. Low-quality webcams and microphones in meetings can have an effect on how you're perceived, which is why top streamers tend to have high-quality equipment. You're simply more enjoyable to watch and listen to when you... well, look smart and sound clear.

Decent lighting is hardly going to turn a beast into a beauty but it's a point often neglected by people in a working environment. It's less important during casual meetings or catch-ups, but the amount of digital press conferences and industry broadcasts I've seen where it's apparent that an important speaker is calling from a poor-quality laptop webcam is a little embarrassing.

Its appeal to remote workers aside, the Litra Glow design is interesting as it's one of the few non-invasive lighting solutions on offer right now, and certainly more affordable than professional studio lighting. We see a similar appeal with the original Razer Kiyo webcam that has an integrated ring light built around the camera, though its small size doesn't provide the best results.

This panel-style 'softbox' light could offer something more natural, and it's small enough to toss into a bag and take on the go if you frequently travel for work or broadcasting. That kind of portability for lighting is nothing to sniff at.

The elephant in the room of course is that buying something to illuminate your face can cost money, and 'cheap' solutions might not provide the results you're looking for. If you're in a pinch, just try recording yourself or your subject outside in daylight, or positioned facing a window. It doesn't cost a thing, and anyone watching your broadcast will thank you for it.

Read more...
12 Jan 2022

Dodgy Wordle copycats are already banned from Apple's App Store, but there's more work to do

It’s an age-old adage that if something’s successful, there’s a good chance it’ll be copied. And that’s exactly what’s happened with Josh Wardle’s Wordle game, with copies swiftly appearing on Apple’s App Store.

Some developers were trying their luck in charging subscription fees for as high as $30 a year, which would grant you more words and no ads.

But overnight, after a heavy backlash against a copycat app that mirrored Wardle’s game in name and design exactly, Apple looks to have taken all of them down in one fell swoop. We’ve reached out to Apple for confirmation that it was the App Store team who did this.

Wardle has yet to comment on this, but as he has maintained that he’s not planning on monetizing Wordle, there could still be an opportunity for him to expand the game, offering different word counts or leaderboards with friends for example, but in an official capacity.


Analysis: What about the other copycats?

It’s no secret that the App Store has been here before with copycats - Flappy Bird and Temple Run come to mind as having been shamelessly ripped off in the past.

But this is notable because swift action was taken in the space of an evening. Whether or not it may be because Wordle is a web app, rather than one that can be downloaded from a Store, is up for discussion, as other similar apps that mirror official brands can still be downloaded from the App Store with no penalty.

However, if you search for a popular game or app in the App Store, there’s a good chance you’ll come across another copycat. Searching for Flappy Bird or Tomb Raider comes up with a list of apps that have nothing to do with the original developer, with some even showcasing screenshots of the original app.

Tomb Raider, Sonic and Mario copycats on App Store

(Image credit: Future)

Granted, inspiration can come from anywhere. Steve Jobs would repeat the quote in 1996 of ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal’ from Pablo Picasso to reference Apple’s work on the Macintosh from 1984. But Jobs was also enraged by how he was convinced that Android had blatantly copied iOS in 2008.

But when you take the name of the same app you’re taking inspiration from, taking the same design cues from the app, then tacking on a chargeable fee when the original game is free and open to all, then it’s a major problem.

Apple has a mammoth task in weeding out other copycat apps. Granted, its efforts to improve standards for developers on the App Store, either through reducing approval times or reducing the company’s cut of in-app earnings are encouraging. But removing thousands of apps that blatantly steal from others is going to be something that developers will be watching closely for after the last 24 hours of Wordle copycats disappearing from the App Store.

Via The Verge

Read more...

Find Out More About Us

Want to hire best people for your project? Look no further you came to the right place!

Contact Us