Sky has decided to join BT and Virgin Media in offering its own mobile network service alongside TV, landline and broadband.
Sky Mobile will be available for general sign-up from January 2017 and offers a few features you might not find anywhere else.
That’s why we’ve decided to give you a low down on the new network, what it costs and what you get for your money.
What is Sky Mobile?
In addition to its TV, broadband and landline services, Sky now offers a 4G mobile network service too. Sky Mobile is for existing Sky subscribers and new, non-Sky customers. There are benefits to having Sky TV too, but it is not necessary.
At present, it offers SIM only 12-month contracts, but that is likely to change at some point in 2017. Sky told Pocket-lint that it also plans to offer phones, such as those by Samsung and Apple’s iPhones, later next year.
It isn’t likely to add many other price plans though, as the aim of Sky Mobile is to be as simple and transparent as possible.
How much does Sky Mobile cost?
Sky mobile has a simple structure. There are three data plans and two options for calls and texts. You pick one of the plans, then choose how you want to pay for your calls and texts.
- 1GB of data: £10 per month
- 3GB of data: £15 per month
- 5GB of data: £20 per month
Calls and texts
- Pay as you use: 10p a minute or talk time, 10p a text
- Unlimited calls and texts: £10 per month for non-Sky TV customers, free for Sky TV subscribers
For example, if you want 1GB of data a month and unlimited calls and texts, it’ll cost you £20 per month if you don’t also subscribe to Sky TV.
A Sky TV household can have up to five SIMs so a whole family can make use of free unlimited calls and texts on individual phones.
What network does Sky Mobile use?
As an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) Sky leases mobile spectrum from O2, so anywhere there is an O2 4G signal you will be able to use 4G data on your Sky Mobile service too.
You can check 3G and 4G coverage for your area in the UK here: http://www.o2.co.uk/coveragechecker
What’s different about Sky Mobile?
With so many other network providers, you might wonder why you should consider Sky Mobile over a rival, especially if the prices are similar? Sky has included a few interesting additional incentives to make its service a little different.
Unlike most, if not all, other providers Sky Mobile allows you to roll over your data allowance to use at a later date. What’s more, you have up to three years to use it.
At the end of every month, any leftover data is stored in a virtual piggy bank and you can cash in each 1GB you have acquired, which is then added to that month’s allowance. All rolled over data is also cumulative, so you can pile it up for when you need it most.
Although Sky Mobile contracts are locked to 12-months, you have the option each month to change your plan. You can opt to either go up or down in data allowance and pay for than band from then on. Or you can switch from unlimited calls and texts to pay as you use and vice versa.
Sky+ customers with Sky Mobile can create playlists of their favourite content and stream or download them to their phones, over Wi-Fi or 4G. It also gives every Sky Mobile customer free Sky Go Extra (which usually costs £5 per month), and they can each use Sync on up to four devices.
The feature will also be coming for Sky Q customers later in 2017.
Are there any Sky Mobile add-ons?
If you run out of data or know you will need more in a specific month, you will be able to buy 1GB of extra data. We’re still waiting on pricing for add-ons.
What are Sky Mobile’s data roaming costs?
You will be able to use your Sky Mobile SIM when travelling around the world. Prices are yet to be revealed, but will be the same as rivals in Europe especially – considering that EU pricing throughout member states is capped. From June 2017 all data and mobile roaming throughout EU countries will be the same cost as at home.
We’re still waiting for pricing for roaming in places such as the US and Australia.
How do I get Sky Mobile?
Sky Mobile will be officially available from January 2017, with some customers who pre-registered early possibly getting it before Christmas. You can pre-register for your Sky Mobile SIM, whether you are an existing Sky customer or not, at sky.com/getmobile.
Blu might be a familiar name in the US, but its venture into the UK is only just starting. It’s starting from an interesting position too.
Launching on Amazon.co.uk, the phone immediately offered a Black Friday deal dropping from its regular price of £239.99, to a pocket-satisfying £184.99. That’s not a lot of money for a 5.5-inch metal phone, but sadly that offer has now passed and we’re back to the still rather affordable £240.
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Design
- Metal unibody design
- 153 x 75.3 x 7.6mm, 170g
Metal is becoming a common thing in smartphones. What was once the artistry of HTC, now seems to be the defacto standard. It’s something that brands like Huawei and OnePlus have picked up on, drawing down metal from a £600 phone, to a £400 phone. Now Blu pulls it down under £300, into a price band where you’ll usually be looking at plastics.
The cool metal is nicely finished, with neat chamfering to the edges that give the phone a look we find reminiscent of Huawei’s devices, like the Mate S. The Blu Vivo 6 measures 153 x 75.3 x 7.6mm and weighs 170g.
A soft rear curve and body-coloured antenna bands are the order of the day and despite the price point, it’s difficult to pick many faults with this design on first glance. It feels solid and good quality, even if the finishing around the display might not be quite as exciting as you’ll find on some more expensive models.
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Hardware and specs
- MediaTek octo-core chipset, 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage with microSD
- 3130mAh battery with rapid charging
Sitting at the core of the Vivo 6 is a MediaTek octo-core chipset with 4GB RAM. There’s also 64GB of internal storage, with support for microSD, if you want to expand this further.
We’ve not had the chance to fully test the performance, but that’s a good loadout. The choice of MediaTek is typical of more affordable phones, but the 64GB of storage is generous, as is the RAM.
There’s USB Type-C on the bottom of the handset, used to power the 3130mAh battery within. We’ve also not had the chance to test the endurance of the battery, but we’ll report back fully once we’ve spent some time with the phone.
There’s a fingerprint scanner on the front, flanked by touch dots. The fingerprint scanner offers unlocking as you’d expect, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, also doubling as a home button. The dots to either side offer your other Android navigation controls – back and recent apps – and the advantage of not using icons is that the functionality can be reversed according to your preference.
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Display
- 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 401ppi
There’s a 5.5-inch display on the front of the Vivo 6. This isn’t the highest spec display that you’ll find at that this size, but the 1920 x 1080 pixels results in a pixel density of 401ppi. That’s a common figure, as many devices a step down from flagship spec offer this – from the Moto G4 to the OnePlus 3T.
The display looks to be full of colour and vibrancy and for this price of handset, we’re impressed with its performance. We’ve seen better full HD displays at this size, especially some of those using AMOLED, but we’re happy with what we’ve seen so far.
- OnePlus 3T review: Three cheers for the best mid-price phone
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Software
- Android Marshmallow
- Bundled Amazon and other apps
The Vivo 6 launches on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but gives it a reworking in a similar fashion to brands like Huawei. The aim is often to enhance the experience as well as provide some degree of uniqueness to help the phone standout against rival devices.
Sitting on an Android core, however, there’s always the argument that the software doesn’t need changing or altering as it’s a solid base. The biggest changes around the home screen environment include a swipe up to access shortcuts and settings – a little like the iPhone – with the swipe down only offering access to notifications.
That doesn’t make a huge difference to use once you’re familiar with it, but in some ways to steps away from features that are perfect good or useful in stock Android. There’s no Do not Disturb access through the shortcuts, or the volume settings, although it still exists in the menu, making access a little harder, so it’s a feature you might never use to its full potential.
There’s also a range of bundled apps. These include Amazon apps – which we’d install anyway – and seeing as you’re likely to be buying this from Amazon, we’re not so offended. Then you have the addition of Opera as an alternative browser. If you’re a Google user, Chrome is likely your best bet and it’s also included, so the choice is yours.
Aside from some tweaks and changes – and bear in mind that there’s no apps tray either – there are some other apps that are fun, like the Chameleon app that will let you select a colour using the camera and create a theme. That means you can theme your phone after the outfit you’re wearing, or to match your shoes, bag, car or whatever.
There’s some duplication of other apps for entertainment, like music, video a gallery, in addition to the standard Android offering, which, as we’ve said, is now pretty sophisticated.
But overall it’s difficult to be offended by the changes made in this phone. It’s a nip and a tuck and first impressions don’t ring any alarm bells for us.
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Cameras
- 13-megapixel rear camera
- 8-megapixel front camera
The Vivo 6 packs in a 13-megapixel rear camera with phase detection autofocus and a flash. The pixels are small at 1.12µm, which might mean it’s less happy with low light conditions compared to some of the latest models out there.
The app is heavily customised and again as a Huawei feeling about it, with plenty of options, like HDR, a pro mode to give you manual controls, timelapse, slowmo and so on. One minor limitation on the video front is that it only offers up to 1080p video capture, missing out on the latest 4K richness.
The front camera is 8-megapixels offering beauty mode and a range of themes you can apply.
We’ve not had the chance to fully test the cameras, but we will report back with a full performance low down, once we do.
First impressions of the Blu Vivo 6 are good. This is a solidly designed and built Android handset that hits a number of important spec points with that big display, metal body, fingerprint scanner and ample storage and does so for not a lot of money.
We’ll be giving the Blu Vivo 6 a full workup as soon as we’ve had the chance to spend a little more time with this handset.
The Blu Vivo 6 is currently on sale unlocked at Amazon.co.uk.
If you’re thinking of dipping your toes into virtual reality, your best bet is to start with an inexpensive mobile headset. And of the ones that are available (there are a lot, actually), your best bet might just be Google’s new Daydream View headset. It undercuts the Samsung Gear VR on price, and is also more comfortable to wear, thanks to its cloth-covered housing. Still, you might want to wait if at all possible. Google’s Daydream VR platform doesn’t have many apps at the moment, but that will change. The View headset is also only compatible with Google’s Pixel phones for now, but more Daydream-ready phones are on the way. Once those apps and compatible handsets arrive, though, the View will be the mobile VR headset to beat.
We’re just a few weeks out from Rogue One, the first in what will probably be a never-ending string of “stand-alone” Star Wars films. After last year’s successful revival of the franchise, fans are chomping at the bit for more on Rogue One, and they’ll get it this Friday. Twitter will be hosting a live Q&A and broadcast some unseen footage from the upcoming film.
It’s just the latest example of Twitter’s interest in live video — the company has already started hosting live NBA shows and it also broadcast all three presidential debates as they happened, just to name a few of its recent initiatives. Friday’s livestream will feature a Q&A session with director Gareth Edwards, producer Kathleen Kennedy and cast members Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudykand and Riz Ahmed. Naturally, you’ll need to tweet your questions using the hashtag #AskRogueOne.
A Q&A with the cast of @starwars #RogueOne streaming LIVE on Twitter this Friday at 1pm ET. pic.twitter.com/Cp1O7zyemu
— Twitter (@twitter) November 29, 2016
The stream will kick off at 10AM PT with new, unspecified “content” from Rogue One before the Q&A gets underway; Twitter says the livestream will take place at a “surprise location” — perhaps the set of Episode VIII? If you’ve fled Twitter for greener pastures but still want to follow along, fear not: Twitter specifically says that the stream will be available for anyone checking it out at rogueone.twitter.com. But if you want to ask a question, you’ll need to have account.
Nintendo didn’t reveal any details when it announced a partnership with Universal Parks & Resorts to bring its video games to tourists last year. Today the company divulged a bit more, but there still isn’t a lot of info on specifics just yet. Nintendo says the goal of the project is to use characters, action and adventure so you can step inside games via attractions that capture the “adventure, fun and whimsy” of playing your favorite titles. In other words, it’s bringing its iconic games to life.
Nintendo-themed areas are coming to three Universal parks: Osaka, Orlando and Hollywood. The company says these parts of each park will be “expansive, immersive and interactive” with rides and attractions, restaurants and shops. Details on exactly which characters and games the areas will pull from are said to be coming soon as all the planning and design is “well underway.” As you might expect, there is a mention of Mario in the teaser video below.
Back in March, Japanese media reported that the area inside Universal Studios in Osaka would be a $350 million section focused entirely on the plumber. That report indicated that the — let’s just call it Super Mario World — should open by 2020, just in time for Japan to host the summer Olympics.
Nintendo says the themed portions of the three parks will open separately “over the next several years,” so you might not want to book that vacation just yet. The company did say that no matter your age or lack of previous experience with its games, “there will be something for everyone.” Universal has done well to bring movies and TV shows to live for park goers, so Nintendo’s catalog should make for some captivating attractions. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a while to take in the worlds of Mario, Harry Potter and Bart Simpson in the same day.
That report that went around earlier this month was right on the money: Facebook really was working on more Messenger games. Today, the social network has launched its HTML5 cross-platform gaming experience called “Instant Games,” along with 17 titles that include some familiar names like Pac-Man. Facebook is calling it “cross-platform” because you can play those games not just within the chat app, but also right in your News Feed. They even work on both mobile and the web without having to install additional apps.
Unlike Facebook’s first two Messenger games, these 17 titles are no secret features. You can access them from the new game controller icon below Messenger’s text box or through the website’s new Instant Games tab. The company says they offer a “fun and social experience,” since you can play with anyone and compete with other friends for a place on the leaderboard, though you can choose to only share scores with people you’ve played with before. It’ll also make discovering new games much easier, since you can instantly play anything friends recommend or post as status updates.
The 17 games listed below are now available to play in 30 countries on Android and iOS devices. Facebook promises to release more games in the future and will likely make everything playable in more locations, as well.
- PAC-MAN (BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.)
- Galaga (BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.)
- ARKANOID (TAITO CORPORATION)
- SPACE INVADERS (TAITO CORPORATION)
- TRACK & FIELD 100M (Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.)
- Words with Friends: Frenzy (Zynga)
- Shuffle Cats Mini (King)
- EverWing (Blackstorm)
- Hex (FRVR)
- Endless Lake (Spilgames)
- Templar 2048 (Vonvon)
- The Tribez: Puzzle Rush (Game Insight)
- 2020 Connect (Softgames)
- Puzzle Bobble (TAITO CORPORATION / Blackstorm)
- Zookeeper (Kiteretsu)
- Brick Pop (Gamee)
- Wordalot Express (MAG Interactive)
The overlap between Minecraft’s brick-building fun and Lego’s actual plastic blocks was bound to happen sooner or later. Last summer, Warner Brothers rolled out an early version of Lego Worlds on Steam Early Access in order to gather feedback from players before launching the final version. Today, the company announced that official launch will happen early next year. Lego’s take on Minecraft’s construction techniques is set to arrive on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam on February 17th.
During the course of the game, you’ll be able to customize a character, drive an assortment of vehicles and build pretty much anything you want. You’ll interact with other characters and “an expansive range of items” on the way to becoming a Master Builder. There’s even a zombie invasion you’ll need to take care of for a farmer.
Of course, this digital take on the toy blocks means there’s a lot less clean up when you’re done building whatever it is you set out to construct. When Lego Worlds arrives in February, PlayStation 4 owners will be privy to an exclusive Lego Agents DLC that includes characters, vehicles and weapons. For now, take a look at the teaser trailer down below.
Source: Warner Bros. (Business Wire)
There’s a key scene early in Jurassic Park when the visiting scientists see their first dinosaur in person. Paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) clamber out of their Jeep as they stare at the majestic brachiosaur looming above them. “It’s a dinosaur,” Grant stammers in disbelief. His reaction matches the audience’s: After a lifetime of looking at fossils and picture books, here, in the flesh, is a real, live dinosaur. We’ll never experience this ourselves, but virtual reality can convincingly take us face to face with these extinct creatures.
That’s no coincidence. When done right, VR’s ability to convey presence — the feeling of actually being somewhere — is unrivaled by any other medium. Nowhere is that more apparent than when you’re craning your neck to take in the size of the zebra-striped brachiosaur lumbering through a tar pit in Crytek’s Robinson: The Journey. Same goes for ducking under a bellowing tyrannosaur stomping through a museum hall in an Oculus tech demo. Some 65 million years later, developers love to resurrect nature’s most fearsome creatures in VR. But why?
“Dinosaurs have an epic sense of scale that immediately makes you appreciate the potential of VR,” Derrick Hammond, an environmental artist at Oculus, tells Engadget. For example, one of the experiences in Oculus’ Dreamdeck sampler is set in a museum late at night. The marble hallway is lined with fossils, and a poster proudly proclaiming “Rex Lives” hangs above a relatively small T. rex skull. Then a menacing growl and thunderous footsteps echo in the distance. You’re frozen in place while a hulking version of the real thing stomps toward you, teeth bared, letting out a room-shaking roar that echoes off the museum’s stone and glass. It comes closer, towering over you, allowing an intimate look at its murderous maw before walking over you and offering a view of its pebbled underbelly.
“We made sure that the T. rex gets right up in your face and looms over you so that you could really feel the size of it,” Hammond said. Spielberg doesn’t have a thing on this.
Interacting with one of history’s largest apex predators in VR is very different from playing Turok: The Dinosaur Hunter or passively watching Jurassic Park, though. Your brain inherently knows that you’re playing an old game or watching a movie. “[It’s] so much more powerful than seeing them as a 2D representation on a television screen or monitor,” Hammond said.
Crytek’s Elijah Freeman agrees. When his team was researching potential projects, they discovered that scale and verticality look their best in VR. “It gives you that sense of immersion when you look up to see something large and gigantic,” he said. Hence, going forward with Robinson, a game that finds the player crash-landed on an alien jungle planet where feathered velociraptors are as common as leopards, a juvenile T. rex is a constant companion.
“We made sure that the T. rex gets right up in your face and looms over you so that you could really feel the size of it.”
While we still have grizzly bears and giraffes today, they don’t inspire the same kind of awe. You can watch them pretty much anytime you turn on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel. In contrast, seeing an extinct creature “in person” that you’ve only read about or whose skeletons you’ve seen in museums is almost therapeutic. Witnessing a brachiosaur rear up on its hind legs because you ordered your pet T. rex to roar at it, for instance, immediately transports you back to childhood — a time where anything felt possible if you imagined hard enough.
“It’s the experience that I’m seeing something that no one else gets to see,” Freeman said. “Maybe interacting with an elephant [in real life] could be a cool experience, but you’re risking your life to do it.”
Hammond added that one of the big selling points of VR is the ability to “experience anything, anywhere.” That pitch is a big part of getting people to latch onto the medium. “Dinosaurs offer so many different qualities that fulfill that promise by letting you stand next to a creature you feel as familiar with as an elephant or giraffe but could never actually see at the zoo or in your lifetime,” he said.
Freeman said having a robust narrative adds to the medium’s transportive nature and helps further sell the illusion. We already know what dinosaurs are and why they went extinct. And, thanks to a lifetime of scientific research and pop culture, we have a general idea of how they should act, be they peaceful herbivores or fearsome predators.
A velociraptor from Robinson: The Journey.
Even though both Oculus and Crytek’s dinosaurs differ slightly from what we saw in Jurassic Park, they largely behave in the same ways. Raptors, despite their smaller stature in Robinson, are still vicious pack-hunters. Brachiosaurs are more concerned with being giant, adorable doorstops and eating plant matter than they are with the actions of puny humans. The T. rex, of course, remains the tyrant king of dinosaurs.
“In this world,” Freeman said, “when you see that, given the story that you already know, it helps make it more believable.”
Maybe that’s why when he played an early demo of the game, Freeman reacted the same way Grant and Sattler did upon seeing his first brachiosaur. The 3D model might not have had any textures applied to it yet, but for the test run, it had been animated to have its head buried in the treetops, chowing food. Until a coworker asked him what he thought, he’d lost himself simply watching the extinct vegetarian strip a tree bare.
“I felt special,” he recalled. “I felt like I got to witness something that doesn’t happen anymore.”
Tiny Lichtenstein is known for its adorable castles, alpine vistas and, until recently, being an unabashed tax haven for billionaires. However, some customers may regret stashing any funds in the principality because of a hack at the Valartis Bank, according to Bild am Sonntag (paywall). While the attackers didn’t gain direct access to funds, they reportedly stole sensitive banking information. In letters obtained by the German site, they’ve threatened to release the data unless paid a staggering 10 percent of account balances in Bitcoin by December 7th.
Valartis Group was recently purchased by the Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Ltd. of Hong Kong. Until recently, the 62 square mile principality was reputed as a tax haven, but it recently eliminated its banking secrecy rules to comply with US and EU regulations, and now calls itself a “safe haven.”
The unknown hackers accessed Valartis’ e-banking system and stole payment order information, according to Citychamp. However, they “did not obtain details of the account statements or asset data,” CFO Fong Chi Wah said in a statement. The company didn’t detail exactly how the blackmailers gained access to its online systems.
Studies by the Tax Justice Network show that wealthy individuals from Russia, China and Saudi Arabia are most likely to stash cash abroad to avoid taxes. Despite strict US rules on disclosure, one US citizen dodged an order to reveal his holdings in a Lichtenstein bank by pleading the fifth amendment, Forbes reported earlier this year. Bild am Sonntag says that Valartis Bank’s customers include actors, politicians and other well-heeled individuals.
It’s been a long time since Sky revealed plans to become a mobile virtual network operator with the help of O2. The company opened up registrations for Sky Mobile last month, not that those registering really knew what they were expressing their interest in. Today, though, Sky has pulled the curtain aside on its upcoming mobile offering, which will finally go live in mid-December. It would be unadvisable to enter such a saturated market without a unique selling point to pitch, which in Sky Mobile’s case, is rollover data and fully flexible contracts.
Just as BT favoured simplicity when it reentered mobile last year, Sky is starting out with just three SIM-only plans.
|Price per month||£10||£15||£20|
|4G data allowance||1GB||3GB||5GB|
You’ll notice we’ve only highlighted data allowances in the table above, because that’s all you get. Calls and texts are either billed on a pay-as-you-use basis — each minute or message costing 10 pence — or you can throw down an additional £10 per month for the unlimited package.
A Sky Mobile contract comes with a 12-month term, but you’re not agreeing to any fixed pricing structure. Each month, you can change your data plan, and add or remove the unlimited calls and texts package. You can do this mid-month, too. Say you’re on the £10, 1GB tariff, and are running out of data. You can upgrade to the £15, 3GB tariff, pay the fiver difference, and immediately get those two extra gigs. The next month, you can drop back down to the 1GB plan again and just pay £10.
This flexibility and competitive pricing, at least where data is concerned, isn’t even Sky Mobile’s killer feature — data rollover is. Any unused data, from any month, goes into your “piggybank,” which you can draw from to top up your allowance at any time. Now, any rolled-over data does expire after three years, but the piggybank works on a “first-in, first-out” basis, so you withdraw the data that will expire soonest, first. A family can link up to five SIMs with a single piggybank, too, so what the parents don’t use, the kids can eat through later. All plans and piggybanks are said to be easily managed via a mobile app or online.
The whole point of being a quad-play provider, which Sky will soon be, is so you can cross-pollinate your other services with alluring customer incentives. Thankfully, how this works in Sky Mobile’s case is relatively simple to explain. Existing Sky+ TV customers that pick up a mobile contract get the £10 unlimited calls and texts package for free, and they also get Sky Go Extra for free.
To jog your memory, Sky Go Extra is a mobile app that lets you download content for offline viewing and stream live TV on the move. Sky Mobile subscribers will get one new feature, though, called “Sync.” Sync effectively lets you see what’s sitting on your Sky+ box at home, helping you decide what you might want to catch up on when you’re not sat in front of the living room TV. Sky is selling this as the best features of Sky Go Extra, with the added discovery features of your Sky+ box.
And that’s it for now. There are currently no incentives for Sky broadband customers, and no word on how that might play out if/when Sky get around to it. Either way, we’re told the plan is to keep everything as simple as possible, especially when Sky Mobile expands into handsets from the likes of Apple and Samsung sometime next year.
The launch schedule is probably the most complicated thing about the whole proposition. Contracts will initially be available to anyone who registered their interest ahead of time — more than 46,000 people, apparently — and existing Sky TV customers. Only Sky+ customers for now, though, since they’re the only ones that can take advantage of this new Sync feature.
Sky Q customers, and anyone else, will have to wait until the “full market launch,” which will start early next year.