Apple has launched an internal music publishing division, headed by industry executive Elena Segal, according to Music Business Worldwide.
Segal had served as Director of iTunes International since 2006, covering a wide range of legal and licensing matters for iTunes around the world. She began her new role as Apple’s Global Director of Music Publishing earlier this month, based out of London, England, according to her LinkedIn profile.
The initiative is said to be one of the first major moves from Apple Music’s new global operations chief Oliver Schusser, who was promoted from his previous role as Vice President of iTunes international in April.
The report suggests that the new division will help the Apple Music team to better discover up-and-coming artists, and improve its direct relationships with publishers and songwriters. The division is said to be made up of several subdivisions dedicated to operations, publisher relations, and other areas.
Like her boss Schusser, Segal will likely split her time between London and Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.
Tag: Apple Music
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Apple today released a new update for Safari Technology Preview, the experimental browser Apple first introduced over two years ago in March of 2016. Apple designed the Safari Technology Preview to test features that may be introduced into future release versions of Safari.
The Safari Technology Preview update is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store to anyone who has downloaded the browser. Full release notes for the update are available on the Safari Technology Preview website.
Apple’s aim with Safari Technology Preview is to gather feedback from developers and users on its browser development process. Safari Technology Preview can run side-by-side with the existing Safari browser and while designed for developers, it does not require a developer account to download.
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Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming iOS 11.4.1 update to developers, one day after releasing iOS 11.4, an update that introduced AirPlay 2 and Messages in iCloud.
Registered developers can download the new iOS 11.4.1 beta from Apple’s Developer Center or over-the-air once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Developer Center.
We don’t know what new features are included in the iOS 11.4.1 beta, but it is likely to focus on bug fixes and performance improvements to address issues discovered since the release of iOS 11.4.
Apple’s work on iOS 11 is wrapping up, as iOS 12 is set to be released to developers next week following the keynote event of the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference.
Related Roundup: iOS 11
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Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 update to developers for testing purposes, which comes as macOS 10.13.5, an update that’s expected to include Messages in iCloud, is still in testing.
The new macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 beta can be downloaded through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store with the proper profile installed.
We don’t yet know what improvements the sixth update to macOS High Sierra will bring, but it likely focuses on bug fixes and performance improvements for issues that were not able to be addressed in macOS High Sierra 10.13.5.
We’ll update this post if any new features or notable bug fixes are discovered in the new macOS 10.13.6 beta.
Work on macOS High Sierra is wrapping up, with Apple now shifting focus to the next-generation version of macOS, macOS 10.14, which will be unveiled next week at the Worldwide Developers Conference.
Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming watchOS 4.3.2 update to developers, one day after releasing watchOS 4.3.1, a minor bug fix update that addressed a startup issue.
Once the proper configuration profile has been installed from the Apple Developer Center, the new watchOS beta can be downloaded through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General –> Software update.
To install the update, the Apple Watch needs to have at least 50 percent battery, it must be placed on the charger, and it has to be in range of the iPhone.
It’s not yet clear what features will be introduced in the watchOS 4.3.2 update, but as another 4.3.x update, it’s likely to be minor in scale, addressing bug fixes and making other small improvements to the operating system.
watchOS 4.3.2 is likely to be one of the final updates to the watchOS 4 operating system. Apple has begun work on watchOS 5, which will be provided to developers next week at the 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference.
Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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Apple today seeded the first beta of an upcoming tvOS 11.4.1 update to developers for testing purposes, one day after releasing tvOS 11.4, an update that introduced support for AirPlay 2.
Designed for the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV models, the new tvOS 11.4.1 developer beta can be downloaded onto the Apple TV via a profile that’s installed using Xcode.
We’re not yet sure what fixes and changes the tvOS 11.4.1 update might bring, but it’s likely to focus on bugs that have been discovered since the release of tvOS 11.4.
Apple’s tvOS updates have historically been minor in scale, and Apple does not often provide us with detailed notes outlining what’s new. We’ll update this post should anything be found in the beta.
Apple’s work on tvOS 11 is winding down as the company is now focusing on tvOS 12, which is set to be unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference next week.
Related Roundup: Apple TVBuyer’s Guide: Apple TV (Neutral)
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StrongVPN has been around for a while, but the VPN service has unfortunately not managed to find its place among the premium VPNs available. However, a much-needed overhaul of the apps, continuous addition of servers and locations, and improved speed and performance in 2018 have put it into the spotlight.
Does it deliver? That’s what we aim to answer with this StrongVPN review!
Creating an account
To create an account, you first select the plan, enter your email address, and add your payment information. The email address is required to log in to the apps, and you can set up a password after your account is created. StrongVPN guarantees that the email address is needed only for the apps and customer service. If you’re still worried though, you can set up a dummy email account.
Payment and pricing
StrongVPN accepts major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, as well as payments via Paypal, Bitcoin, and AliPay. These should cover your payment needs, but those looking for alternate cryptocurrencies or other payment choices may have to opt for other VPN services.
StrongVPN offers just two subscription options. The monthly plan is priced at $10 per month, while the annual plan is priced at $69.99 ($5.83 per month), which is one of the cheaper annual plans out there. However, the lack of plan duration options is a little disappointing.
A lot of VPNs, like NordVPN, offer long-term (more than two years) plans that come with huge discounts. Many users may also appreciate the availability of short-term three-month or six-month plans that offer some savings.
While a free trial isn’t available, the good news here is that StrongVPN provides a 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee in case you aren’t happy with the service.
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Easy to install apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. StrongVPN also has useful installation guides available for manually setting up the VPN directly on WiFi routers, Chrome OS, Linux systems, the Kindle, Kodi machines, and more. Something that is missing (and that’s found with other VPNs) is a browser extension.
You can find the full device list here, and the apps for Android and iOS can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and iOS App Store respectively. For this review, we took a closer look at the Windows and Android apps.
Setup and settings
The design of the apps has received a much-needed overhaul from the convoluted and outdated design from before. Once you log in to the Windows app, you are greeted with a static world map and a large connect button, similar to what is seen with SaferVPN.
If you’re looking for something specific, you can launch a server list by pressing the “Best Available Location” button. Of course, you can always leave it at the default best option and let the app make the choice for you. Clicking on the button opens the server list. StrongVPN has over 650 servers in 20 countries, so you should be covered for the most part. However, I was disappointed to see the poor Asian and African coverage, with no servers in India or any of Africa.
The best server to connect to will obviously be the one closest to you. StrongVPN supports torrenting on all their servers so you don’t have to worry about needing to pick the right one. StrongVPN also allows for access to the Netflix U.S. catalog, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and other streaming services. It may take some trial and error to find the one that works though, or you can get in touch with customer service to find out, which is what I did.
The Preferences menu can be accessed by clicking on the gear icon at the top bar. The various settings include:
- Options – This section includes aspects of app behavior like auto reconnect, connect on launch, start when Windows starts, and show notifications in the taskbar. You can also enable “Kill Switch,” which cuts the internet connection if the VPN connection fails for any reason. This helps avoid any leaks, so we definitely recommend activating it.
- Protocols – StrongVPN supports all the best VPN protocols like IKEv2, OpenVPN, SSTP, and L2TP. You get short descriptions stating what each protocol is for. If you don’t want to worry about it, you can let the app choose the best one for you. However, we recommend using OpenVPN because of its stronger security. OpenVPN also comes with the option to “Scramble,” which basically enables obfuscation to avoid network traffic sensors that detect VPN usage and block it.
- Information – You will find your login and system information here. The “Get Help” button can be used to contact customer service if you run into any issues. While StrongVPN previously handled customer service complaints via email only, it now has a Live Chat for support on its website.
- Diagnostics – The Diagnostics page provides a timeline of app activity like when the server list is refreshed or when you connect or disconnect from a server.
- Updates – You can set up how often the app searches for an app update here.
Further reading: Check out our guide on how to use a VPN.
Like the Windows client, the Android app has received the same design overhaul. Both look identical, so there’s no learning curve involved with using the different apps. You get the same map, “Best Available Location” or server list button, and large connect button to get started.
The Settings menu can be opened by tapping on the three vertical dots at the top right corner. This menu is a lot simpler than what is available with the Windows app. Available options include Protocol, Auto Reconnect, Scramble, and Contact (for customer service). The only protocol supported is OpenVPN, but that’s okay since it is the most secure one to use anyway.
Ease of use
The StrongVPN apps are extremely easy to use now. The Windows client has a few more settings available than the Android app, but both are otherwise almost identical. It’s simple to get online and connect a server and you can let the apps make that choice for you unless you are looking for something specific.
SaferVPN, which is quite similar in its setup, goes one step further with special mentions for servers that allow U.S. streaming and U.K. streaming though. That requires some trial and error with StrongVPN.
How does StrongVPN compare with other top Android VPN apps? Check out our best VPN apps guide to learn more.
Security and privacy
StrongVPN is based in the U.S., which may be of concern since many privacy buffs are wary of using VPN services based in a Five Eyes country. However, StrongVPN’s complete zero logging policy may help alleviate that concern. StrongVPN keeps no traffic or connection logs, and the only information it keeps is your email address and any payment information if you opt for re-billing.
Features like a Kill Switch and Scramble (obfuscation) are big security positives. Every encryption protocol is available, including OpenVPN that uses 256-bit AES encryption, with SHA-256 for authentication, and RSA 2048 for handshaking purposes. It is the most secure encryption protocol right now. I tested for IP leaks, WebRTC detection, and DNS leaks using ipleak.net and found no issues.
Original speed – Bangalore, India
To test the speed, I used the Ookla Speed Test after connecting to server locations in Malaysia (best available server), the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Singapore, and Australia. StrongVPN is one of the fastest when it comes to connecting to a server, requiring only around five seconds to do so.
As you can see, the speeds aren’t the fastest when compared to some of the other VPNs I’ve reviewed so far, but it certainly isn’t the slowest either. The drop in speed was expected when connected to locations far away from me like the U.S. and Australia.
Those speeds were actually still quite impressive, allowing me to comfortably stream video with no issues. I expected a much better connection from Singapore though, as it’s the location closest to me, considering StrongVPN’s lack of servers in India.
However, the biggest disappointment was the fact that the “Best Available Location” doesn’t work at all. StrongVPN may be making that decision based on server load and ping, but speed certainly isn’t the chosen criteria.
The app would switch the location every time I connected to the “Best Available,” shifting between Malaysia and Hong Kong (even Dallas showed up as an option once!), when Singapore offered a much faster speed and similar ping. This is a big negative as far as ease of use is concerned since you’ll have to find the best locations yourself without relying on the app.
- Allows up to five concurrent connections.
- No free trial available, but you can take advantage of a no-questions-asked 30-day money back guarantee.
- Zero activity or connection logging.
- Over 650 servers in 20 countries.
- Torrenting works fine, and StrongVPN supports P2P on all servers. Remember to respect your country’s copyright laws. We do not condone or encourage any illegal activities.
- Allows for access to video streaming apps like Netflix. Only select servers work though, so that can take some trial and error. Or you could contact customer service.
- Speaking of customer service, they were incredibly helpful. StrongVPN has now introduced a Live Chat on the website. The response was quick and my question was answered without any hassle. The Live Chat is also available 24/7.
- Security features like Kill Switch and Scramble are very useful.
StrongVPN – Final thoughts
StrongVPN has improved by leaps and bounds compared to where it was just a year or so ago. The new, simpler, and more modern design is a big plus, the settings menus have been simplified, and the speeds have increased a lot. There is still room for improvement though, particularly with the “Best Available Location” feature that doesn’t work at all.
StrongVPN isn’t the easiest VPN service to recommend, with it falling just short in most regards. The apps are simple enough to use, but SaferVPN and PureVPN do it better. The speeds are definitely fast enough to do what you need, but something like ExpressVPN is faster. Security features like Kill Switch and obfuscation are great inclusions, but NordVPN offers more. The annual plan is quite affordable, but there are also cheaper options out there.
Having said that, VPN experiences often differ greatly from user to user. StrongVPN is certainly simple enough and offers good security features. The zero logging policy is a huge positive despite it being based in the U.S. And as far as speed is concerned, that depends on a lot of factors and may be much better for you. The good news is that you can give StrongVPN a shot to see if it’s the right fit or take advantage of the unconditional 30-day money back guarantee.
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So that’s a look at StrongVPN. We’ll also be bringing you even more quick review looks at some of the best VPN services in the weeks and months to come. If there is a particular VPN you would like us to review, do let us know in the comments section below!
Next – check out our IPVanish review
HP introduced its refreshed Omen 15 gaming laptop along with seven peripherals and accessories during the HP Gaming Festival in Beijing. The laptop serves as HP’s midlevel “performance” product, falling between its low-tier Pavilion Gaming brand for mainstream gamers and its high-level Omen X brand for enthusiasts.
At launch, HP lists three starting points spanning from the 15-dc0010nr to the 15-dc0030nr. By default, all three sport a 15.6-inch IPS screen with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Specifications provided before launch indicate they likely pack a 144Hz refresh rate although you can upgrade to a 3840 x 2160 resolution at 60Hz, or a 1920 x 1080 resolution at 60Hz with G-Sync support.
Backing the screen is one of two eighth-generation Intel processors. More specifically, the 15-dc0010nr model is the only laptop of the trio to rely on a Core i5-8300H four-core processor while the other two units pack the Core i7-8750H six-core chip.
For graphics, all three include discrete Nvidia chips: The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of dedicated memory on the dc0010nr and dc0020nr models, and the GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of dedicated memory on the dc0030nr model. HP says you can configure these laptops with up to a GeForce GTX 1070 chip with a Max-Q design.
Meanwhile, you’ll find a slight difference in the system memory too: 12GB at 2,666MHz on the GTX 1050 Ti models (1x 4GB, 1x 8GB), and 16GB at 2,666MHz on the GTX 1060 model (1x 16GB, 1x empty slot). The laptop supports up to 32GB total along with optional Intel Optane “cache” to speed up hard drive access.
“Thoughtfully engineered for the heat gaming generates, with larger fans, a three-phase motor, and fluid dynamic bearings to create less friction and more consistent fan speed control in all configurations,” the company says.
For storage, all three start with 128GB on a PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and 1TB on a 7,200RPM hard drive. This dual-storage setup is complemented by an SD card reader and three USB-A (5Gbps) ports. Additionally, the GTX 1050 Ti models include a USB-C port (5Gbps) while the GTX 1060 model upgrades that connection to Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps).
As for other connectivity options, you’ll find one Mini DisplayPort connection, one HDMI 2.0 port, one gigabit Ethernet port, an audio combo jack, and a second microphone jack. Wireless consists of Bluetooth 4.2 and Wireless AC supporting speeds of up to 867Mbps. All three sport HP’s Wide Vision HD webcam too.
Finally, the two GTX 1050 Ti models pack a full-size backlit keyboard supporting two lighting zones powered by a 52.5WHr battery and a 150-watt adapter. The GTX 1060 model packs a keyboard supporting four zones, a 70WHr battery, and a 200-watt power adapter. Given the GTX 1060 inside, the dc0030nr is bit thicker and heavier at 1.02 inches thick and 5.56 pounds.
The updated Omen 15 laptop arrives on July 29 starting at $980. Here are all the other Omen-branded devices revealed this week:
- Omen Mindframe Headset — 2H 2018 — price unknown
- Omen Sequencer Keyboard — July — $180
- Omen Reactor Mouse — July — $80
- Omen X Transceptor Backpack — July — $250
- Omen Mouse 400 — July — $40
- Omen Soft Mouse Pad 200 — July — $20
- Omen Hard Mouse Pad 200 — July — $30
- Leak shows Inno3D cryptocurrency mining card based on the GTX 1080 Ti
- HP targets gamers on a budget with new Pavilion notebooks, desktops, and more
- Dell rebrands Inspiron gaming laptops to G Series, serves up four new models
- You can stuff a hefty Core i9 six-core CPU in Dell’s new refreshed XPS 15 laptop
- Asus just rolled out the world’s slimmest gaming laptop with GTX 1070 graphics
Noon Home launched an updated app that boosts the system’s smart home lighting customization capabilities. Noon added compatibility with smart home standard Lifx light bulbs and also tripled its capacity for customized lighting combinations or scenes.
Noon’s support for Lifx Wi-Fi-enabled smart LED light bulbs increases the system’s potential for room light control and custom lighting scene creation. Lifx white, infinite color, and infrared bulbs are available in various sizes. Because they do not require a smart home lighting hub, Noon’s Room Director module can identify, configure, and control Lifx bulbs directly.
Simultaneous to the addition of Lifx compatibility, Noon increased the number of stored lighting combination settings and scenes from 16 to 48. When you have configured the light combinations and individual light settings for a custom scene you’d like to save for later use, you can use the Noon smartphone app to choose from a library of 48 icons to represent the scene. After you have selected the icon, it appears on the Room Director’s menu grid for easy selection.
The menu grid is another new feature. Previously you selected a scene by swiping through icons for each of the maximum 16 configurations until you found the one you wanted. Now you can press and hold the Room Director’s scene icon to switch to the new grid view of four icons. If you customize lots of scenes and change often, you still have to swipe through as many as 12 grids. You also can organize your scenes to configure the four you use most to show in one grid.
Noon, which launched in October, starts with a Room Director module, one of which is required for each room. The Room Director uses Bluetooth to control up to 10 additional extension switches in the same room. Noon extension switches work with any style light bulb as long as they not installed in lamps on switch-controlled power outlets. Because Noon products aren’t weatherproof, they cannot be used with outdoor light fixtures or lamps.
The Noon Room Director detects the type of bulbs connected to extension switches in the same room by reading the electrical current each light uses. You don’t have to set up elaborate lighting scenes, although that is where the creativity and power of the system shine. Without any customization by the owner, Noon configures the room lights for three scenes: Relax, everyday, and bright.
- Philips Hue smart home lighting app boosts features, simplifies customization
- Get enlightened: Here are the best smart light bulbs of 2018
- What is a smart switch? Turn yourself on to a new way to light your home
- Lutron Caseta Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch review
- LightCam is a smart light bulb that is also a security camera
Facebook Messenger is adding a new feature to its Messenger app that might help during those times you’re feeling particularly indecisive. With Polls, users can now post questions to their Stories for their friends to vote on.
While Polls are likely associated as a feature on Instagram, it isn’t completely new to the Messenger platform. For a while now, users have been able to create in-chat polls between group chats among friends. But since your Story on Messenger is also shared on Facebook, you’re able to open up your questions to even more of your Facebook friends — you know, in case you need more feedback than what an intimate group can provide.
To post a Poll to your Messenger Story, all you need to do is take a photo or video and select the “polls” sticker from the stickers icon. Once you have placed it over your content, you can then type your question and customize the answers for your viewers to choose between. After posting it, your followers on Messenger can then start voting and are also able to see the results in real time.
If you want to see the results yourself, you can access them through your Story by swiping up to see the viewers list to see how many votes each answer received. The voting process isn’t anonymous either — the viewers list will show you who specifically voted for each answer. Those who view your Story can also reply to it by typing their response at the bottom which will then open the conversation in Messenger.
Within recent months, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed that Stories would be a focus for the company. Starting a few weeks ago, Facebook began rolling out a variety of updates to Stories in order to give its users more ways to enhance them.
For starters, users will be able to add audio to their Stories — which can be useful for sharing content that isn’t as visual. Another feature (that is also already available on Instagram) is the ability to archive their Stories. Since Stories are only visible for 24 hours, the archive feature allows you to refer back to it later. Lastly, the update will also give users the ability to save storage on their smartphones by saving images from the Facebook Camera to a private Facebook cloud storage.
As for the Facebook Messenger feature, it’s currently rolling out to both iOS and Android. You also have to make sure you’re using the latest version of the app.
- Facebook F8 2018 Keynote recap: Everything Zuckerberg and co. announced
- How to use Instagram
- Instagram finally (sort of) gets that share button in the form of stickers
- All the new features coming to the Facebook app and Messenger
- Hang out via video chat, then tag friends in Stories with Snapchat’s new tools