If you want to be an Xbox Insider, Microsoft says you’ll now have to earn it

If you want Microsoft to let you through the velvet of rope of its Xbox Insider programs, be prepared to earn it—and up through four different tiers of beta access, to boot.Creators Update updated home xbox one

A Microsoft support post from Monday night confirms that there are now four rings of beta access within the Insider program, not one, and that applicants will literally be judged on how they participate to earn access. Only the most worthy will get to try out upgrades like the excellent Creators Update features for the Xbox One being rolled out now.

Users who are already part of the Xbox Insider program won’t have to do anything. They will find themselves automatically moved over and assigned to the new hubs over the next several weeks, Microsoft said.

The new rings of Xbox Insiders include the highest-priority ring, Alpha, followed by Beta, Ring 3, and Ring 4. Microsoft’s description of the new program utilized both the velvet glove as well as the iron fist: Users were concerned with the frequent updates that Microsoft pushed to Insiders, so the new tiers offer users a way to match the availability of new beta experiences to what users prefer.

There’s a catch, naturally: If you to advance through the ranks, so to speak,you’d better actually use the new software, test it, and provide enough feedback to justify including you. And if you take a break, sorry—your Xbox could drop to a lesser-priority ring while you relax on the beach.

 This is an enormous change to the way Microsoft treats its Insiders, allowing the true believers better access. There’s no indication that those fans will receive any news or information early, but it certainly allows those with an extra box or a real lust to be rewarded for their loyalty. It’s too early to tell, though, how Xbox Insiders will respond. Another question hanging in the air: Will Microsoft set up a similar program for Windows Insiders?

Creators Update updated guide xbox one

Microsoft

The new Creators Update for the Xbox One includes a new Guide, which Insiders have already.

Microsoft explains the rings in this way:

 The Alpha ring is the “cutting edge,” Microsoft says, and members will receive two to three updates per week, gaining access to new features and fixes “at the expense of potential bugs.”

 The second Preview ring will receive just one to two updates per week, with slightly less risk of encountering bugs.

The third Preview ring will receive about two to three updates per month, with system updates arriving even less frequently.

The fourth and final Preview ring typically receives new system updates about once per month. These builds are just about ready for public release, so will be the least buggy.

xbox clubs

Upgrades like Clubs have rolled out to Insiders first.

Naturally, the way in which users advance and fall back through the rings is the most interesting aspect of the whole program.

To confirm their ring ranking, Xbox One owners can open the Xbox Insider Hub on the Xbox One and check the System tab. That tab will also allow users to apply for upper-echelon rings, but only if their participation has potentially qualified them. If they’re nowhere near worthy, that option won’t appear.

“Xbox Insiders earn the right to participate in the respective Preview rings based on their activity, which is judged by Xbox Insider XP, forum activity, and overall console usage,” Microsoft’s post says. Users can move up through the four rings by completing quests, surveys, quick polls, and ratings within the Hub app; participating in games and betas, providing feedback via the official forums; reporting bugs, and simply using the console.

The three top-tier rings have limited capacity, according to Microsoft. The company said it will review each user’s status regularly and invite them to join a higher tier via a system message.

Naturally, users can also fall from grace. If your account drops significantly due to inactivity, you’ll be bounced to Ring 4, the lowest-tier ring, and be forced to work your way back up. Ring 4 is as far as you’ll fall, though, unless you voluntarily opt out of the Xbox Insider program entirely.

Thoughts? Microsoft knows this is a big change and wants your feedback. Presumably, posting in the support thread could boost your Insider standing as well.

To comment

Intel brought 300 drones to the Super Bowl

It wasn’t live, but Intel’s 300 drones in the sky behind Lady Gaga at the start of the Super Bowl Halftime Show were impressive nonetheless. What started out as a sea of floating lights came together by the end of the bit to form an American flag. It was impressive, cool, and it was all thanks to the ever-growing interest in drones.ladygagsuperbowldrones

The Super Bowl was the third public outing in the U.S. for Intel’s Shooting Star quadcopter drones following several weeks of aerial shows at Disney World in Florida. It was also a record-breaking moment for Intel’s drones, which were allowed to fly up to 700 feet for the first time after receiving special permission from the Federal Aviation Authority.

Each drone weighs a little less than a volleyball and is equipped with LED lights that Intel says can create more than 4 billion color combinations in the sky.

 

To make the drones actually operate and move the way they need to, Intel said it developed special algorithms to automate the animation process. But during show time, the drones can be operated by a single pilot from one PC.

Although Intel says the drones were designed specifically for entertainment purposes, there may also be more practical applications for these drones in the future. Intel’s drone chief, Anil Nanduri, told Wired that he sees a future where these drones could be used for purposes such as search and rescue. Just plug in a search pattern and off they go.

Intel wasn’t the only company talking drones on Sunday. Amazon also aired a Super Bowl commercial showing off drone-based Prime Air deliveries. Prime Air is not yet available in the U.S., but it is currently being tested in the UK.

Although Intel’s Shooting Star drones are able to show up for special events, the devices aren’t yet available for sale; the quadcopters still have to get a stamp of approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Google Maps update puts a focus on navigation inside the app

Over the past few weeks Google has added in-app Uber booking and parking availability to Maps, but it isn’t done with the improvements. In an update rolling out today, the app will receive some better navigation—not in how we drive but in how we get around the app.google maps navigation

A blog post details the change, which will only affect the Android version of Maps. The update adds a new menu bar to the bottom of the home screen that brings easy access to three common features: places, driving, and transit. Designed to cut down on the number of taps you’ll need to make to get directions and find restaurants, the update focuses on delivering real time at a glance, according to a Google blog post:

Under the new places tab, users will find lists of restaurants and bars around you, as well as a search bar that lets you find ATMs, pharmacies, gas stations and grocery stores. Additionally, if you tap the car icon you’ll be able to quickly get an estimated time of arrival for going home or to work, as well as traffic conditions and any possible reported delays. Finally, the subway icon will show you the best train or bus to catch for your commute, or you check out schedules for stations and stops near you.

google maps nav
Google Maps’ new navigation helps you get the information you need quickly.

 We all love Google Maps, but let’s face it, no one wants to spend any more time with it than they have to. With this latest update, Google hasn’t added any new features, but by streamlining the interface a bit, it will help us get where we’re going that much faster.

This story, “Google Maps update puts a focus on navigation inside the app” was originally published by Greenbot.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV With 4K Video Support Launched in India

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV With 4K Video Support Launched in India at Rs. 2,54,995

  • The 5D Mark IV features Dual Pixel sensor for enhanced subject tracking
  • Canon also announced two new L-series lenses
  • The 5D Mark IV is priced at Rs. 2,54,995 for the body only

Professional photographers can finally rejoice as after a painful four-year wait, Canon has announced the EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR, which is the successor to the much-loved 5D Mark III. The new model brings with it 4K video recording and Dual Pixel autofocus for much better video capabilities. It will be available in India from the first week of September at Rs. 2,54,995 ($3,499) for the body only, Rs. 3,06,995 ($4,399) with the EF24-70mm f/4L kit lens, and Rs. 3,24,995 ($4,599) with the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens.

The camera boasts of a 30.4-megapixel full-frame sensor along with the Canon’s Digic 6+ image processor. Other features include ISO range of 100-32000, 7fps burst mode, video recording up to 4K at 30fps, Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS, NFC, and USB 3.0. The camera has a 3.2-inch fixed touch-enabled LCD display 1.6 million-dot resolution. The body is built from a magnesium alloy for added durability. Along with the new camera, Canon also launched two new L-series lenses – the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM ultra-wide zoom lens and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM standard zoom lens.

The most interesting thing about the 5D Mark IV is its new proprietary Dual Pixel autofocus system, which now allows for quicker continuous autofocus in video mode. With the added phase detection autofocus, you can now simply tap the display in live mode to switch focus when shooting stills.

“Canon’s EOS 5D series of DSLR cameras has a history of being at the forefront of still and video innovation. And today, we add to this family of cameras the EOS 5D Mark IV- the first in our 5D series to offer 4K video and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “In developing this new DSLR camera, we listened to the requests of current EOS users to create for them a modern, versatile camera designed to help them create and share beautiful still and video imagery.”

“The EOS 5D Mark IV is truly the most versatile EOS ever, all set to revolutionise photography in India,” said Kazutada Kobayashi, President and CEO, Canon India. “With the launch of such evolutionary products, we foresee our numbers to grow and achieve a market share of 50 percent in the DSLR segment.”

 

Moto E3 Power With 3500mAh Battery Goes on Sale

Moto E3 Power With 3500mAh Battery Goes on Sale

  • It is priced at roughly Rs. 9,500
  • The Motorola E3 Power offers 16GB of inbuilt storage
  • It support dual-SIM slots

Motorola unveiled the Moto E3 smartphone in July, revealing a few specifications, a price tag of GBP 99 (roughly Rs. 8,800), and early September availability in the UK. Now, a variant called the Moto E3 Power has gone on sale via a third-party retail site in Hong Kong – with no official announcement for it yet. As the name suggests, the smartphone comes with a better battery, and it also bears a few upgrades to other specifications, and sells at a price tag of HKD 1,098 (roughly Rs. 9,500).

There has been no official announcement by Motorola, so there is no clarity on whether the smartphone will be launched in international markets or not. As for the specifications, the Moto E3 Power offers more memory, more inbuilt storage, and of course the above mentioned larger battery, when compared to the Moto E3.

The Moto E3 Power features a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) IPS display, and is powered by a 64-bit 1GHz MediaTek MT6735P quad-core SoC paired with 2GB RAM. The smartphone offers 16GB of inbuilt storage with the option to expand further via microSD (up to 128GB).

Optics include a 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash and autofocus. A 5-megapixel selfie camera also sits in the front. The Moto E3 Power runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and supports dual-SIM slots (Micro). It packs a 3500mAh battery, and offers connectivity options like 4G LTE, GPS, Buetooth, and Wi-Fi. The online availability in Hong Kong was first reported by Playfuldroid.

With respect to the Indian market, Motorola hasn’t even introduced the Moto E3 yet. The company launched the Moto G4 in June for Rs. 12,499, and is selling it exclusively on Amazon India. The smartphone has been made available in Black and White colour variants.

 

LG X cam With Dual Rear Cameras, 4G VoLTE Support Launched in India

LG X cam With Dual Rear Cameras, 4G VoLTE Support Launched in India

  • The smartphone features a 120-degree wide-angle lens
  • It also bears a 5.2-inch 3D Arc Glass display
  • It’s powered by an octa-core SoC and 2GB of RAM

LG has launched its X cam smartphone in India, featuring a dual rear camera setup with a 120-degree wide-angle lens. The smartphone has been priced at Rs. 19,990 and will be available in its Titan Silver colour variant from Friday across stores in India.

The dual-SIM (Nano-SIM) card supporting LG X cam was first unveiled in February ahead of MWC 2016, but only started rolling out globally in March.

Apart from the dual rear camera setup, the other highlight of the LG X cam is its 3D Arc Glass design. The smartphone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the LG UI 5.0 skin atop. It sports a 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) In-cell display, is powered by a 1.14GHz octa-core SoC, coupled with Mali-T720MP3 GPU and 2GB of RAM.

As for optics, the LG X cam bears a 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear camera setup, with the second sensor coupled with a wide-angle lens. On the front, the smartphone bears a 5-megapixel camera. LG is also touting a Pop Out Picture feature that combines 6 images into a moving image. The X cam comes with 16GB of inbuilt storage that’s expandable via microSD card (up to 2TB) in the hybrid dual-SIM card slot.

Connectivity options on board the LG X cam include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS/ A-GPS, Micro-USB, 3.5mm audio jack, and FM radio with RDS. Sensors on board include proximity, accelerometer, magnetometer, and ambient light sensor. The smartphone weighs in at 118 grams, and measures 147.7×73.6×6.9mm. It’s powered by a 2520mAh battery.

 

OnePlus Bullets (V2) In-Ear Headphones With In-Line Remote Launched

OnePlus Bullets (V2) In-Ear Headphones With In-Line Remote Launched

  • OnePlus announces successor to its Silver Bullet earphones
  • Availability for Bullets (V2) earphones not announced yet
  • The Bullets (V2) are priced at $19.95 (roughly Rs. 1,300) in the US

OnePlus has announced the successor to its Silver Bullet earphones, launched back in 2014, in the form of OnePlus Bullets (V2) earphones. Although the global availability for the in-ear headphones has been revealed as of now, its pricing in the US is $19.95 (roughly Rs. 1,300), EUR 19.95 (roughly Rs. 1,500) in the EU, or GBP 15.99 (roughly Rs. 1,400) in the United Kingdrom. The earphones will be made available in Black and White (closer to Gold) colour options.

The OnePlus Bullets (V2) in-ear earphones have a frequency range of 20-20000Hz, sound pressure level of 107dB, 9mm dynamic drivers, rated power of 3mW and Total Harmonic Distortion of less than 1 percent (at 1000Hz, 1mW) as per the company’s website. The coil material used is copper-clad aluminium and the earphones come with an Aryphan Polyarylate diaphragm.

Bullets (V2) have an impedance of 24 Ohms and come with a 3.5mm headphone jack. The earphones come with a cable length of 1.25 metres, weigh 14 grams, and contain an in-line remote as well.

On the official page for Bullets V2, the company says, “We’ve partnered with the German audio experts over at LOFO, who have over 88 years of experience in diaphragm technology. The Bullets are fitted with an Aryphan polyarylate diaphragm, known for its light weight and high vibration frequency. Carefree, comfortable, well-rounded reproduction ensures your music sounds just the way it was intended to.”

The company has further claimed that the Bullets (V2) earphones are wrapped in high-end Japanese black copper to ensure consistent listening experience. Silicone buds have been carefully shaped to minimise distortion for balanced and clearer sound, it adds.

 

Nasa’s Juno Probe Set for Closest Jupiter Flyby

Nasa's Juno Probe Set for Closest Jupiter Flyby This Saturday

  • Juno will be about 4,200 kilometres above Jupiter’s swirling clouds
  • There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter scheduled
  • Mission scheduled to end in February of 2018

Nasa has said that its Juno spacecraft, launched five years ago, will get closer to the cloud tops of Jupiter this Saturday than at any other time during its prime mission.

“This is the first time we will be close to Jupiter since we entered orbit on July 4,” said Scott Bolton, Principal Investigator of Juno from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

At the moment of closest approach, Juno will be about 4,200 kilometres above Jupiter’s swirling clouds and traveling at 208,000 kilometres per hour with respect to the planet.

There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter scheduled during its prime mission scheduled to end in February of 2018.

The flyby on Saturday will be the first time Juno will have its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zooms past.

“So for this upcoming flyby Juno’s eyes and ears, our science instruments, will all be open,” Bolton noted.

“This is our first opportunity to really take a close-up look at the king of our solar system and begin to figure out how he works,” Bolton said.

While the science data from the pass should be downlinked to Earth within days, interpretation and first results are not expected for some time, Nasa said.

“No other spacecraft has ever orbited Jupiter this closely, or over the poles in this fashion,” Steve Levin, Juno Project Scientist from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said.

“This is our first opportunity and there are bound to be surprises,” Levin noted.

Not only will Juno’s suite of eight science instruments be on, the spacecraft’s visible light imager — JunoCam will also be snapping some closeups.

A handful of JunoCam images, including the highest resolution imagery of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter’s north and south poles, are expected to be released during the later part of next week, the US space agency said.

The Juno spacecraft was launched on August 5 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

 

Sony Xperia X Compact, Xperia XZ Spotted on Company Site; Image, Specifications Leaked

Sony Xperia X Compact, Xperia XZ Spotted on Company Site; Image, Specifications Leaked

  • Sony is hosting an event on September 1
  • It is expected to also launch the Sony Xperia XR smartphone
  • The Xperia XR is tipped to sport a 5.1-inch display

Sony is all set to host its event at IFA on September 1 and the company is widely expected to unveil the Sony XR smartphone. However, mentions on the company site indicate the Sony may launch the Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact instead. In the meanwhile, prolific tipster Evan Blass (aka @evleaks) has posted a leaked image of the latter smartphone.

Let’s start with the company site listings of the two smartphones, though nothing is detailed beyond the names. Spotted by Netherlands-based website TechTastic, Sony’s Czech site mentions the Xperia XZ with the caption “photography”, and the Xperia X Compact with the caption “pictures without blur”, evidently pointing to some impressive optical performance.

Reports speculate the Xperia XZ that’s now been spotted is in fact the Xperia XR that was rumoured earlier. However, there’s not much clarity on this. In the meanwhile, tipster Evan Blass has shared animage of what he claims to be the Sony Xperia X Compact. This is the first time we’ve heard of a Compact variant in the X series. It sports a similar design as seen on other smartphones in the same series.

Sony killed off its flagship ‘Z’ series to replace it with the new X series. In May, the company announced the aesthetic re-branding at MWC in Barcelona, and launched the Xperia X, Xperia XA, and Xperia X Performance smartphones.

If the Sony Xperia X Compact rumour is true, it should ideally be the smaller variant of the 5-inch Xperia X smartphone. TechTastic has also leaked some specifications of the Xperia X Compact, claiming it will feature a 4.6-inch display, be powered by a Snapdragon 820 SoC, either 3GB or 4GB of RAM, USB Type-C port, and a 2700mAh battery

As mentioned, there is also noise that Sony will unveil the Xperia XR smartphone at IFA as well. Leaks suggest that the Xperia XR will feature a 5.1-inch display, and be powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor. With this smartphone, Sony is also expected to finally make the switch to USB Type-C ports. There is also a pegged dual-LED flash module coming next to the rear camera, and the dimensions are tipped at 146.4×71.9×8.1mm.

The TechTastic report indicates that the Xperia XR or Xperia XZ will feature a 5.2-inch display instead, be powered by a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM, sport a 23-megapixel rear camera with laser autofocus apart from a 13-megapixel front camera.

In any case, the event is just a week away and official details will be out soon. While Sony has clearly not given up on its smartphone business just yet, it has decided to put less effort into the second largest market in the world. The Japanese company recently was claimed to reduce focus in the Indian market due to unsatisfactory performance. Sony predicts only a 0.3 percent growth in US, China, and India in the future.

 

iPhone, iPad Had Higher Failure Rates Than Android Counterparts in Q2 2016

Image result for iPhone, iPad Has Higher Failure Rates Than Android Counterparts in Q2 2016iOS devices had a 58 percent failure rate in Q2 iPhone 6 had the highest failure rate of 29 percent

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat among top apps to crash on iOS

When it comes to reliability and performance, Apple iPhones and iPads are failing more often than Android smartphones, a study has revealed.

According to the study global data security firm Blancco Technology Group, iOS devices had a 58 percent failure rate while Android smartphones reported an overall failure rate of 35 percent in the second quarter of 2016.

It is the first time that Apple’s devices have a lower performance rate compared to Android, Softpediareported.

iPhone 6 had the highest failure rate of 29 percent, followed by iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

For this, the study revealed the device failure rates by operating systems, manufacturers, models and regions.

In the first quarter of 2016, Android smartphones had an overall failure rate of 44 percent.

“Samsung, Lenovo, and LeTV were among the manufacturers with the weakest performance and higher failure rates. Samsung scored 26 percent in failure rate, while Motorola just 11 percent,” the findings showed.

iOS devices failed more frequently in North America and Asia compared to Android and the quality of the devices being shipped may be one of the reasons.

The main problem iOS users faced was not being able to connect to a WiFi network, dropped connections, slow speeds and incorrect password prompts.

Android smartphone users struggled with camera issues, battery charging, touchscreen issues and app crashes.

According to the results, 50 percent of iOS applications crashed compared to 23 percent of Android apps.

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were among the top apps to crash on iOS devices.