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M. Laraib

How your tax information can be used by ID thieves

How your tax information can be used by ID thieves 1920 1080 M. Laraib
ID theft
(Image: © Future)

Identity theft is a serious offense that can affect just about anyone if they’re unlucky enough to be targeted by criminals. Fraudsters use all sort of different ways to get their hands on your personal information, which if it involves getting hold of your name, Social Security number and other identifying information can result in tax fraud and other crimes being committed using your ID.

Adding insult to injury, if criminals manage to get their hands on personal information pertaining to your tax affairs then it could also mean you could end up having your refund taken or a much-needed stimulus payment being stolen. On top of the financial hardship this can cause the matter of identity theft can also be a minefield to sort out after it’s happened.

While signing up for an identity theft protection package is useful, it’s also a very good idea to ensure that you make regular checks on your financial information. On top of that, you’ll want to make sure that you look after things like your Social Security number more carefully, as well as being more diligent about keeping other personal information a more closely guarded secret.

  • Check out the best identity theft protection
  • The best tax software around today
  • Take a look at the best accounting software

What happens?

If you’re unfortunate to have your tax information stolen then it may be that you don’t realise it right away. In some cases if might take an annual event, such as e-filing your annual tax return to the IRS in order to find out what has been going on. In some cases you might try and file your return and then get a notification from the IRS that one has already been filed in your name.

However, an identity thief may also use your Social Security number to get a job, which can cause you further issues. If you start to find strange things happening to information related to your personal tax information then it may well be time to get in touch with the IRS in order to let them know what is happening. 

Equally, you may find that the IRS contacts you first, especially if it has evidence of a tax return already being filed using your Social Security number.

Human Hand Holding Phone Credit Card Stock Vector (Royalty Free) 676172089
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Zeeker2526)

What next?

If you do get that letter from the IRS, outlining that someone has been using your SSN to obtain your tax refund or that there are other problems associated with your account, be sure to act on what the letter tells you to do. There will be a number for the IRS included in the letter, which you’ll need to call. Make sure you have the letter, along with a copy of your tax return from the previous year, which will help prove your identity when you get through to them.

Alternatively, if you haven’t received a letter from the IRS and suspect all is not well then it’s possible to make contact with them yourself. The first of two jobs to carry out is to head over to IdentityTheft.gov and read up on the information there. Next, you’ll want to complete an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039). Following that you’ll need to submit the form to the IRS online, which will enable them to start working on your case.

Making repairs

Hopefully the IRS will be able to get to the bottom of the identity theft that has affected your personal tax history. However, you’ll also want to try and restore things to the way they were before you were singled out by criminals. One option is to put a fraud alert on your credit reports. This is a relatively simple but very effective measure that can make it much more difficult for an identity thief to open more accounts using your name and other details.

In order to do this you’ll need to contact one of the three nationwide credit bureaus; which are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Contacting them will not only allow you to create a fraud alert, but also perform a credit freeze, which is also referred to as a security freeze, and also opt out from pre-screened credit offers. The good thing is that you only have to notify one of the three and they are then required to inform the other two. An alert will last for one year.

Businesswoman Hands Holding Credit Card Using Stock Photo (Edit Now)  1019544325

Additional measures

Next up, make sure that you order free credit reports, which can be done via annualcreditreport.com. What’s more, due to the pandemic, everyone in the US was able to get their own free credit report every week and this has been available from all of the three national credit reporting companies named above. During less turbulent times it’s still possible to get a free copy of your credit report once every twelve months. This is a vital measure to keep tabs on how your overall credit picture looks.

By taking this measure you can quickly spot any irregularities on your account. If you see any bogus accounts opened in your name then you’ll need to close them as soon as possible. For more practical advice and tips then head along to the IdentityTheft.gov website for additional help.

It may take some time before your personal details and any accounts associated with them are returned to normal. Looking to the future, it’s also a good idea to sign up for an identity theft protection package too, which could help to keep fraudsters at bay. It’s certainly an additional safeguard that will often come with lots of other fringe benefits too, such as integrated internet security options and even a VPN.

What is QNED? LG’s new Mini LED TV range explained

What is QNED? LG’s new Mini LED TV range explained 1200 675 M. Laraib
LG QNED
(Image credit: LG)

LG’s Mini LED TV range of ‘QNED’ screens is starting to roll out worldwide, bringing the company’s exciting new combination of NanoCell LCD and Mini LED backlighting to the world for the first time. But what even is QNED, and should you pay it any attention?

The main confusion here is that QNED sounds a lot like… every other TV acronym. The name is very similar to Samsung’s QLED (quantum light-emitting diode) panels, found in the latest new Samsung TVs, and – like Samsung’s QLED – also refers to LCD technology rather than, say, OLED or MicroLED.

It’s especially confusing given LG and Samsung are such close competitors. Whereas Samsung is the world’s biggest TV maker, LG is somewhat close behind, and the two TV brands are often cited in the same sentence, especially in questions of the best TV to buy. 

QNED and QLED are so similar that the occasional mixup or mistake feels inevitable, and we can’t help but feel that LG could have done more to differentiate itself – unless, of course, it planned to trade on consumers’ existing familiarity with Samsung’s TV tech.

If you want to know what a QNED TV actually is, and what marks it out from other LG TVs – or Samsung TVs – this is the guide for you.

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What is QNED? LG’s new Mini LED TV range explained

By Henry St Leger about 6 hours ago

No, not QLED, the other one

LG QNED

(Image credit: LG)

LG’s Mini LED TV range of ‘QNED’ screens is starting to roll out worldwide, bringing the company’s exciting new combination of NanoCell LCD and Mini LED backlighting to the world for the first time. But what even is QNED, and should you pay it any attention?

The main confusion here is that QNED sounds a lot like… every other TV acronym. The name is very similar to Samsung’s QLED (quantum light-emitting diode) panels, found in the latest new Samsung TVs, and – like Samsung’s QLED – also refers to LCD technology rather than, say, OLED or MicroLED.

It’s especially confusing given LG and Samsung are such close competitors. Whereas Samsung is the world’s biggest TV maker, LG is somewhat close behind, and the two TV brands are often cited in the same sentence, especially in questions of the best TV to buy. 

QNED and QLED are so similar that the occasional mixup or mistake feels inevitable, and we can’t help but feel that LG could have done more to differentiate itself – unless, of course, it planned to trade on consumers’ existing familiarity with Samsung’s TV tech.

If you want to know what a QNED TV actually is, and what marks it out from other LG TVs – or Samsung TVs – this is the guide for you.https://www.youtube.com/embed/q0pWV6TNG5M

What is QNED?

The term QNED is an amalgamation of the word ‘Quantum’, LG’s ‘NanoCell’ LCD branding, and the ‘Emitting Diodes’ used in its backlight. That’s a Q, an N, an E, and a D.

Spefically, QNED makes use of 30,000 miniscule LEDs used in its backlight, far more than the number found in its existing LCD TVs.

That’s because QNED uses what’s called Mini LED technology – a kind of backlight that uses a large number of very small LED lights to control brightness and create effective contrast between different areas of the screen. LG’s QNED TVs also boast 2,500 dimming zones to limit blooming and ensure light is directed where it should across your screen.

This Mini LED tech is also seen in the TCL’s 6-Series and 8-Series QLED TVs, and Samsung is expected to announce its own product line imminently.

LG says its new backlight “comprises up to almost 30,000 tiny LEDs that produce incredible peak brightness and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1 when paired with up to 2,500 dimming zones and advanced local dimming zones.”

The contrast and brightness control is meant to be similar to that of OLED, given the number of LEDs in play. OLED panels can turn off individual pixels entirely, leading to its so-called ‘infinite’ contrast ratio between bright highlights and deep blacks. It’s not an OLED beater, but should still elevate the performance of LG’s current NanoCell LCD TV range.

The backlight won’t be the only factor determining whether your TV is any good, though – and it’s notable that half of LG’s new QNED TVs use its highest-spec TV processor, the a9 Gen 4 AI, while the other half use a lower-spec a7 model. So a TV having ‘QNED’ or ‘Mini LED’ plastered on it won’t automatically mean it’s getting the best specs across the board.

LG's OLED-rivalling QNED Mini LED TVs will launch in July | What Hi-Fi?

What QNED TVs can I buy?

LG has unveiled four QNED TVs so far in its LG TV 2021 range, under its NanoCell branding: the QNED99, QNED95, QNED90, and QNED85. The first two are 8K TVs, and the latter two are 4K TVs – but all are available in 65-inch and 75-inch sizes, with an additional 86-inch size for the QNED99 and QNED90. 

They vary slightly in the motion rate of its panel (60-120Hz), while the 4K models make do with a mid-spec a7 Gen 4 AI processor rather than the premium a9 Gen 4 AI chip used in the 8K models and most of LG’s new OLED sets for this year.

Exact pricing is TBA in most regions, but we’ve heard some reports regarding the cost of the 4K QNED90 and 8K QNED99 TVs. The former will start at $1,999 in the US, rising to $3,999 for the largest, 86-inch model. The latter will start at $3,499 for the 65-inch display, rising to a hefty $6,599 for the largest.

In Australia, we know, more generally, that the screens will start at AU$4,799 (likely around £2,400), and go up to AU$10,799 (likely around £5,000) for the largest, most premium 8K model. 

What about OLED?

The introduction of QNED is especially interesting given LG’s penchant for OLED TVs. The TV maker releases some of the best OLED TVs out there, such as the hugely popular LG CX OLED we saw in 2020 (and which has got a C1 successor for 2021).

LG stresses that QNED will sit below its OLED range, rather than replacing or superseding it, but it’s clear that the company wishes to strengthen its LCD offering so as not to lose out to Samsung and others – given not everyone is sold on OLED TV tech.

LG seems to have put a pin in its B Series OLED, replacing the range with a new A Series budget OLED – so we expect the combination of low-spec OLEDs and high-spec LCDs will start to close the gap between LG’s different product categories, even if the LG C1 and LG Gallery Series OLED should still comfortably outpace their QNED competition.

  • LG TV 2021 lineup: every OLED, Mini LED, and NanoCell TV coming this year

New Call of Duty 2021 release date, news and rumors

New Call of Duty 2021 release date, news and rumors 728 410 M. Laraib

Activision has confirmed a new Call of Duty will release in 2021

New Call of Duty 2021
(Image credit: Sledgehammer Games)

A new Call of Duty is officially in the works and will release in late 2021, Activision has confirmed. 

It’s not a huge surprise, given that Call of Duty games release every year like clockwork, but what is a surprise is that Call of Duty 2021 will reportedly return to a WW2 setting. It’s understandable, then, that Activision has once again enlisted the services of Sledgehammer Games, which developed Call of Duty: WW2. 

While Activision hasn’t officially revealed the next Call of Duty – or indeed confirmed its name, which may be Call of Duty WW2: Vanguard or Call of Duty: Slipstream – details on the new COD are slowly beginning to emerge, and we’re starting to get a good idea of what to expect. 

Read on for everything we know so far about the new Call of Duty for 2021. 

Call Of Duty: Warzone' – Battle Royale quads will return this week

During Activision Blizzard’s Q4 2020 earnings call (via GamesRadar), speaking about Call of Duty, the publisher confirmed that it has “another strong premium release planned for Q4 in 2021.”

That means we can expect the new Call of Duty to arrive in late 2021. Typically, we see mainline Call of Duty games land in October, so it’s possible we will see the new COD in that same window. However, given the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s possible we may see Call of Duty 2021 delayed until November – which is what happened with 2020’s Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare' and 'Warzone' update nerfs the Bruen MK9

The new Call of Duty will return to WW2, according to a report by ModernWarzone (via GamesRadar ) which was later verified by both Eurogamer and VGC. As per these reports, Call of Duty 2021 is called Call of Duty WW2: Vanguard, and Activision has since confirmed that Sledgehammer Games is the developer.

According to Eurogamer, though, the new Call of Duty will have a “traditional” World War 2 setting, contrary to ModernWarzone’s claims that the game will be set in an “alternative timeline”.

What’s more, recent leaks suggest the new game may actually be called Call of Duty: Slipstream, after notable leaker Tom Henderson spotted a listing on Battle.net. The logo associated with the listing doesn’t reveal all that much in the way of the game’s premise, but the name and typeface suggest it might be aerial-themed – which lines up with those existing rumors of a WW2 setting.

The state of Call of Duty: Warzone in 2021 | PC Gamer

Warzone integration and reveal?

Call of Duty 2021 was notably absent at E3 2021, but according to a recent report from VGC, the game could be revealed via an in-game Warzone event like last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.

Not only that, VGC’s report suggests a big Warzone integration could be in the pipeline. Developed by Sledgehammer Games, Call of Duty 2021 is to be powered by Modern Warfare’s ‘IW8’ engine, just like Warzone, which should make integration of the games easier. 

According to VGC, Sledgehammer has plenty of content planned for Warzone when it shifts to this supposed WW2 setting, including Warzone’s “largest and most ambitious [map] to date” that’s “planned to coincide with the release of the game rather than arriving months later.” The report says that the map will take players to the Pacific theater of WW2 and adds that there will be new vehicles to help players traverse the larger space. 

PS4 and Xbox One release?

Prominent Call of Duty and Battlefield leaker Tom Henderson took to Twitter to share information about Call of Duty 2021, stating that the game will be “held back” by versions of the game on PS4 and Xbox One consoles (via Gamesradar).

It’s as of yet unclear how much these rumored last generation versions of Call of Duty Vanguard might differ from their current-gen counterparts and, according to Henderson, this cross-generation strategy will be in place for both Vanguard (or Slipstream) and the next Call of Duty developed by Infinity Ward, positing that game’s release in 2022 if Call of Duty’s annual schedule is to be upheld.

Built with current-gen in mind?

Almost as a direct counter to Henderson’s leak, Activision president Dan Alegre shared details on Call of Duty 2021 during the company’s Q1 earnings call, as reported by GamesRadar, saying the new game is “built for next-generation experience.” This could imply that Call of Duty 2021 is being developed with PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles as the primary focus, even if not exclusively for these systems. 

A name change?

ModernWarzone initially reported that ‘Call of Duty WW2: Vanguard’ was the game’s working title, however, according to Eurogamer sources, Activision plans to stick with this name for the final version. We then learned that Call of Duty: Slipstream might be the game’s title – so the jury is out on that front, at the moment.

Utilize the power of PS5 and Xbox Series X

Black Ops: Cold War did it, so we expect Call of Duty 2021 to take optimization for next-gen consoles even further. We’re hoping that the new COD can be played in 120fps (ideally at 4K) and that it will implement DualSense controller support for extra immersion. While we can take or leave the DualSense support, 120fps for first-person shooters like COD makes a huge difference, particularly when playing online.

In a post-Covid world, the future of cybersecurity is SASE

In a post-Covid world, the future of cybersecurity is SASE 1212 653 M. Laraib

Why SASE is the new de facto standard for cyber

In a post-Covid world, the future of cybersecurity is SASE
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You don’t need me to tell you our lives have changed a fair bit in the last year. How we shop, how we socialize, how we work – the pandemic has forced us to upend the way we live our lives. Some of these changes will recede once we exit the shadow of COVID-19. But others will stick with us, particularly as the pendulum swings back and people begin to work in multiple places at once – at home a few days a week, in the office, even travelling.

The pandemic has had an accelerating effect: those enterprises who embraced digital transformation have doubled down on their investments, while laggards have found it more difficult than ever to keep pace. Agility. Flexibility. Transparency. These were all nice-to-have pre-2020. But today, they are business staples. We’re now living in the age of the ‘unbound enterprise’: enterprises that are free from physical and network infrastructure limitations. And while there are a number of hoops businesses must jump through before achieving this status, one of the biggest – and most daunting – is cybersecurity.

Simply put, cybersecurity cannot remain dormant. When employees can work from any location around the world, simply defending laptops within the office is not enough. Businesses’ IT estates have widened considerably, and with that comes the need for a new approach to cybersecurity.

Embracing a different approach: SASE

Secure access service edge (SASE, pronounced Sassy, like SaaS-y) is an emerging cybersecurity architecture that everyone now seems to be talking about.

In essence, SASE reinvents networking and security technologies that used to be delivered in hardware appliances throughout the enterprise, replacing them with converged cloud computing services that can be used seamlessly from anywhere. By weaving together advanced security capabilities including web content inspection, malware scanning, URL filtering, cloud application access and advanced data protection, SASE architectures offer security that is smarter, more dynamic, and ‘always on’ no matter where people are working – perfect for a world where cybercriminals never rest.

We’ve recently conducted research in partnership with WSJ Intelligence, surveying 508 CEOs and CISO around the world. One thing that has really stood out is just how perceptions have changed about SASE – and cybersecurity in general – since the world was rocked by COVID-19. For example, 48% of businesses say they are substantially increasing the use of cloud-based cybersecurity systems, and 58% recognize the need for a more integrated trust framework. This indicates businesses understand the needs for more distributed connectivity and security, and are putting in place plans to make it a reality.

When asked directly about SASE, the enthusiasm is even more pronounced. 90% of CEOs have either already adopted SASE (43%) or are currently evaluating SASE with a view to adopt (47%). It’s pretty astounding that this approach has gone from a future dream to an everyday reality so quickly – to the extent that nearly half of businesses have adopted it. It’s testament to just how much the pandemic has accelerated technological progress, and forced businesses to rethink how they handle cybersecurity.

Reimagining cybersecurity

And that last point is important. Because as the security needs of businesses change, the role of cybersecurity – and the roles of cybersecurity professionals – changes with it. Some 45% of businesses have accelerated their digital transformation plans as a result of the pandemic. But what’s also interesting is that 45% report cybersecurity now has a bigger role in enabling innovation. Furthermore, 41% agree that it delivers a competitive edge.

It’s been said defense is the best offence. And in a way, that’s true here. For the unbound organization, cybersecurity which is not up to scratch can be one of the biggest limiters of growth. The more a business decentralizes its people and data, more opportunities are created for thieves and attackers to break into systems and steal valuable information.

Having a solid foundation of cybersecurity based on SASE enables businesses to scale up their operations, launch new services, and enable more staff to work remotely without fear of security breaches. Through this lens, cybersecurity isn’t just about protection: it’s about enablement. It allows businesses to pursue their ambitions and innovate without fear.

Of course, the pandemic isn’t over yet. The pace of change is still lightning fast. And even when we do return to some semblance of normality, businesses are not going to want to slow down. Instead, we’re already seeing “work-from-home” evolving into the “hybrid workforce” in which people work in different locations throughout the week. It’s no coincidence that 74% of funds were reallocated to cybersecurity programs during COVID-19. Businesses have discovered security is one of the keys to unlocking the future, so we are going to see more and more investment

SASE has well and truly become the new de facto standard for delivering cybersecurity. And as we press on into a post-pandemic world, it’s exciting to see what innovations this new generation of security will enable. This article is based on the findings from our recent report, The C-Suite Report: Business and Security Strategies for The Unbound Enterprise.

You can finally vanish your WhatsApp photos and videos on Android

You can finally vanish your WhatsApp photos and videos on Android 1200 675 M. Laraib

Your media will disappear in..

WhatsApp China VPN
(Image credit: DenPhotos / Shutterstock.com)

If you’ve been wanting to send over an important photo or video that can self-destruct after a certain amount of time, soon it will be possible with WhatsApp now rolling out the feature to Android devices.

According to WABetaInfo, the feature has been in the works for a while, with Mark Zuckerberg and WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart stating that it was coming to the app in due time, along with multiple device and iPad support.

In the last year, the usage of messaging apps has grown exponentially, with huge demand for privacy and even better features to help manage the many chats we’ve all become accustomed to.With other apps such as Telegram already having these features for their users, pressure was on WhatsApp for these to also arrive for their users as well. With efforts to minimise their terribly mismanaged new privacy guidelines still, they’re doing all they can to retain and attract new users to their service. 

Why is this feature useful?

Imagine if you need to send across an important photo that has some sensitive information. It could involve a sale and you may need to transfer money across to a bank. Instead of the photo being constantly backed up and stored in WhatsApp, the image can disappear once the recipient has looked at it, and then it will not be able to be viewed again. 

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

For security reasons this is incredibly useful, and it’s a feature that users have been wanting for a long while on WhatsApp, especially as apps like Telegram have had this for over a year already.

With other features such as iPad support and multiple device support coming soon, there’s plenty to look forward to if you’re a heavy user of the app. While the feature is only available for Android devices, it’s only a matter of time before it arrives for iPhone as well.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 release date, news, and rumors

Apple AirPods Pro 2 release date, news, and rumors 2560 1440 M. Laraib

When will we see the AirPods Pro 2?

airpods pro
The AirPods Pro (Image credit: Apple)

Rumors surrounding the Apple AirPods Pro 2, a new version of the AirPods Pro, have been circling since last year, after a report from DigiTimes claimed that the new true wireless earbuds will launch in the first half of 2020. 

Of course, they never materialized – and now everything is pointing towards a 2022 release date after a report from Bloomberg that cites people “familiar with the plans” alleged that the AirPods 3 will launch in 2022 with even shorter stems at the bottom of the earbuds. 

There does seem to be some confusion over whether Apple will upgrade the AirPods Pro or bring out a cheaper, ‘Lite’ version of the earbuds.

If they are an entry-level version of the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro, the rumored wireless earbuds might be cheaper than the most expensive Apple earbuds currently on the market (though a recent price leak may have scuppered hopes of cheap AirPods). 

Cut to the chase

  • What are they? A rumored cheaper version of the AirPods Pro.
  • When will they be released? Probably in 2022.
  • How much will they cost? Likely $249 / £249 / AU$399 or under, the price of the AirPods Pro.

Despite no official confirmation from Apple, and very hazy details on the earbuds, we’ve even been hearing reports on how the current pandemic will stall production on the AirPods Pro 2 – and then later reports disparaging these claims. 

Even though we know very little about the AirPods Pro Lite – or if they even really exist – that hasn’t stopped us from dreaming up a wishlist of all the specs and features we’d like to see from a new pair of AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds. Plus, we take a look at all the news and rumors we’ve heard so far.

  • The old AirPods design needs to go – here’s why
  • Can’t wait? Here’s the best AirPods Pro prices and sales available now

Apple AirPods Pro 2 release date

There’s been a bit of back and forth with AirPods Pro 2 release date rumors.

Initial rumors suggested new ‘regular’ AirPods would crash into the market before 2020 is out, but recent comments from industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggest we may be waiting a while longer – speculating that the next-gen AirPods would start mass production in early 2021, with a new AirPods Pro model arriving in 2022 too (via AppleInsider).

That’s backed up by a recent leak from LeaksApplePro that revealed that the AirPods Pro 2 won’t be released until the end of 2021 at best – and possibly not until early 2022.

And, most recently, Bloomberg has further corroborated claims of 2022 release date.

Ming-Chi Kuo has since predicted that the AirPods Pro 2 could release in 2022, in a report discovered by iMore. In it, Kuo puts forward that AirPods sales will “decline in the short term,” but rise back up substantially to over 100 million sales in 2022.

While this isn’t a concrete confirmation of the AirPods Pro 2, Kuo’s prediction suggests that Apple could be gearing up to launch a new AirPods Pro model next year.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 price

According to tweet from LeaksApplePro, the AirPods Pro 2 will cost the same as their predecessors ($249 / £249 / AU$399) – which contradicts previous reports that the new earbuds will be an entry-level version of the AirPods Pro (hence the AirPods Pro Lite name).

If that’s the case, we’d expect them to be significantly cheaper than their pricy siblings. The original Pros are pretty expensive, even more so than the best true wireless earbuds you can buy in 2020, the Sony WF-1000XM3. 

We’d like to see the AirPods Pro Lite at a similar price to the 2019 AirPods; at $159 / £159 / AU$249, they aren’t cheap, but they’re much more affordable. It would be even better if Apple could launch a pair of true wireless earbuds at the $100 / £100 / AU$150 mark, as that would really shake up the competition with a genuinely affordable pair of Apple earbuds. 

AirPods Pro 2 rumors

Improved noise cancellation Advertisementhttps://bfd53a08bcc9fff20e8813def3718392.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

We don’t think there would be much point in releasing an entry-level version of AirPods Pro if they didn’t come with its best feature: active noise cancellation. 

This was a true upgrade over the original AirPods, and signaled a shift in the true wireless earbuds market that means we can now expect to see features previously reserved for premium over-ear headphones in cordless models. 

The noise cancellation offered by the AirPods Pro is very good indeed, particularly for true wireless earbuds – but it could be improved. And according to LeaksApplePro, the noise cancellation will be adjusted, if not given a complete overhaul.

Fitness tracking features

A previous report by Digitimes said future AirPods will use ambient light sensors to take biometric measurements – potentially for monitoring blood oxygen levels like the Apple Watch 6.

According to AppleLeaksPro, this feature is coming to the AirPods Pro 2 – and as posited by MacRumors, this could work in a similar way to the ear-based clip on pulse oximeters used in hospitals, which shine light through the earlobe to detect the amount of oxygen in a patient’s bloodstream. It’s not clear whether the design of the AirPods Pro would have to change materially to allow this to happen, but we think it’s unlikely that Apple would ditch the design that has made its earbuds so ubiquitous. 

That’s not all. Earlier this year, Apple was awarded a number of new patents, one of which suggests that the next AirPods could come with a nifty feature for fitness fans, possibly cementing their place among the best running headphones in the world. 

According to Patently Apple, the patent describes AirPods that use inbuilt sensors to “gather orientation information such as accelerometer measurements during user movements”.

That’s not all. Future Apple AirPods – including the rumored AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro Lite – could automatically pause or lower the volume of your music if they detect hazards in your surroundings, according to a patent granted to the company on August 11. 

The patent describes a pair of true wireless earbuds that are capable of adjusting their audio output based on the user’s activities and location, including “adjusting audio volume, stopping or preventing audio from playing, providing feedback, directions, encouragement, advice, safety information, instructions, and the like”. 

Gesture controls

Apple has also been awarded a patent that describes the ability to control true wireless earbuds with futuristic ‘in-air gestures’

Spotted by Patently Apple, the patent describes how in-air gestures – for example hovering a hand over the AirPods – could work alongside the touch controls already employed by the AirPods Pro, allowing you to trigger different actions. 

More recently, Apple filed a patent describing earbuds that could be controlled by touching your face, shaking your head, and even clicking your teeth together. Whether these features will actually materialize remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Apple is investigating some exciting new tech for its wireless earbuds.

A streamlined design

According to a Bloomberg report that cites “people familiar with the plans” the AirPods Pro will get a design overhaul in 2021, eliminating the ear stems altogether, for a “more rounded shape that fills more of a user’s ear” – perhaps taking a few design cues from the Samsung Galaxy Buds and the Google Pixel Buds.

That design isn’t set in stone, however. Bloomberg says that fitting the features of the AirPods Pro, including the antennas and microphones, into a more compact build has been a challenge so far, which “could result in a less ambitious design when the final product is finalized”. 

If Apple does keep the protruding stems we’d love the brand to include haptic feedback when you touch them – it would add a little bit of tactility to the user experience that we think would be really beneficial. 

Apple AirPods 3, AirPods Pro 2 could launch as early as next year: Analyst  - Technology News

Apple AirPods Pro 2: what we want to see

Sports-friendly features

Some earfins wouldn’t go amiss to make the AirPods Pro Lite appeal to the running crowd. While we find that the AirPods Pro are generally quite secure during workout sessions, some extra security could win over diehard fans of the earhook-toting Beats Powerbeats Pro.

Another way to steal some custom from Beats (and therefore itself)? Adding some cool color options to the AirPods Pro Lite. If they really are a cheaper version of the AirPods Pro, and therefore not a flagship product, what’s the harm in a little experimentation? We’d love to see true wireless earbuds in the same space gray and rose gold colors we’ve seen with some iPhone and MacBook Pro models. 

Longer battery life

The battery life offered by the AirPods Pro doesn’t match some of the best true wireless earbuds of 2020. While perfectly acceptable, just under 25-hours of playtime has been far outmatched by the likes of the Lypertek Tevi (though these admittedly don’t come with noise cancellation, which can drain battery life). 

Improved audio

While the AirPods Pro don’t sound bad by any means, they can’t compete with the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 in this respect. 

For a start, we’d like to see aptX HD support, which would allow for wireless streaming of hi-res audio codecs at 24-bit/48kHz – which Qualcomm claims makes for better-than-CD quality. That way, Apple could get the audiophiles on side – and it seems a bit of an oversight now that the original AirPods Pro can support other codecs like Dolby Atmos spatial audio and Apple Music now offers lossless audio at no extra cost for subscribers. Advertisementhttps://bfd53a08bcc9fff20e8813def3718392.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

We’d also like to see the ability to customize the EQ of the AirPods Pro, which could make them suitable for a wider range of musical genres. While the original earbuds are great for listening to pop music, they just don’t have the right EQ curve to do justice to classical music.

 

Windows 11 problems have already appeared – here’s how to fix them

Windows 11 problems have already appeared – here’s how to fix them 1200 675 M. Laraib

New OS, same old Windows

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has released an early version of Windows 11 for members of its Windows Insider Program, and users are already encountering issues and bugs with the new operating system. 

That’s kind of the point of course, as this developer build is being used as a kind of pre-release beta for the full version that’s expected to launch in “Holiday 2021”, and people who are using it are encouraged to spot and report any bugs and issues.

You might have stumbled across the Windows Insider Program when trying to find out how to download Windows 11. It’s a great way to try the new OS out for yourself but we wouldn’t recommend doing so unless you have a spare laptop or PC hanging around. It’s early days, and some of the problems being discovered might cause you some headaches if you’ve installed the beta onto the only device you have access to.

If you want to take the leap anyway then there’s good news – many of the early issues being discovered already have an easy fix (as discovered by the team over at BleepingComputer) so they shouldn’t cause too much of a grievance for long. 

  • Find out where to buy Windows 10
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Unable to download Windows 11

Funnily enough, one of the first issues encountered was that members of the Insider program couldn’t actually download the OS at all. During its announcement, Microsoft promised that existing members who didn’t meet the minimum system requirements would have access to the Windows 11 preview build regardless, though people soon discovered a bug that prevented the download due to ‘missing hardware requirements’ such as a TPM module.

This didn’t just affect older devices, with even modern hardware that did meet the minimum system requirements detailed by Microsoft being denied access with the same message: “Your PC does not meet the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11. Your device may continue to receive Insider Preview builds until Windows 11 is generally available, at which time it is recommended to clean install to Windows 10.”

This issue is an especially easy fix as Microsoft has already released an update to the settings app. The official instruction is to just reboot your device to apply the update and you should be ready to go.

Unable to search in Start Menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There’s currently an issue with the new Start Menu search bar that prevents it from being typed into. There are other ways to perform a search on Windows 11, but for anyone bringing this habit with them over from a previous OS it’s a nuisance to change.

Microsoft has also acknowledged the problem, stating that opening the Run window will enable you to type into the search bar again. You can do this by hitting Win+Ron your keyboard, and when it appears you can close it as you don’t actually need to type or run anything. Simply opening and closing the program seems to resolve the search box issue.

It isn’t clear when we can expect a patch to officially correct the bug, but given this is a rather funky workaround it’s likely something more permanent is currently being worked on.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic could be on the way, putting form over fitness

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic could be on the way, putting form over fitness 1200 790 M. Laraib

The mystery might be solved

There’s been a lot of confusion around the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 4 lately, with recent leaks suggesting that the sporty wearable we thought would be the Active 4 would actually launch as the Galaxy Watch 4. So where does that leave the more stylish, non-active variant? It now looks like that’s coming too, under the name Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

At least, that’s certainly what a new listing on the website for NBTC (Thailand’s certification authority), spotted by XDA Developers, suggests.

The listing includes three models, one of which has the model number SM-R875F and goes by Galaxy Watch 4 there, while the other two (with model numbers SM-R885F and SM-R895F) are listed as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic.

  • Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 review
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What difference does a name change make?

So based on this we can assume that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 will have a sporty silicone strap, as leaked images have shown, allowing it to basically be the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 4 in all but name. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic then will probably be more what we were originally expecting from the Watch 4, with a more classic watch design.

This would certainly make sense of the situation, and we suggested similar previously, but what’s not clear is how deep the differences between these two wearables will go.

We’d fully expect a different strap on the Classic, likely leather or metal, but will the design and features of the watch differ too? In previous years, the Galaxy Watch has had a rotating bezel, while the Galaxy Watch Active has lacked this, opting for a more compact design instead.

Given that the two wearables now seem to have a more similar name (assuming this listing is accurate) and given also that we haven’t seen any leaked images showing an upcoming Galaxy Watch with a rotating bezel, we’d guess that this might have been ditched, and that the two watches will be far more similar than in previous years.

We can’t be certain though, and won’t be until Samsung unveils the wearable(s), something that we’re expecting it to do in August.