Dear old Linux, what are we to do with you? Developed for just over two decades and it's still barely made a mark on the consumer consciousness.
There was a vague peak during the netbook fad - as it enabled companies to eliminate the extra cost of a Windows installation - but that quickly faltered after people started taking them back because Microsoft Office wouldn't run on them. Have people never heard of Open Office?
The way we're complaining you'd think Linux is overlooked and underused. The amazing truth is that the majority of supercomputers run one type of Linux or another, and it's the leading OS on servers. Besides these, it's put to work on millions of low-power embedded systems around the world - a little something called Android.
So why then does the desktop remain a Windows bastion, while Linux is left shivering out in the cold? The same question could be leveled at the Apple Macintosh. Even with the hysterical success of Apple's wider products, the Mac as a desktop system accounts for just under seven per cent of the market. Linux is no higher than five per cent, and web use points the figure down to a pathetic 1.5 per cent.
Even with the attractiveness of the Mac's ease of use - which brutally contrasts with the stubborn user-friendly-free design of Linux - both still have the same fatal flaw: few games.
Until now. Valve, with its release of Steam for Linux - and more recently the announcement it's going to release an open gaming-platform based on Linux-powered PC architecture - could totally revitalise the desktop fortunes of this able OS.
We're going to take a look at how learning to run Linux, getting it installed and knowing the new gaming platforms can help you get gaming on a free and easy-ish to use OS.
Stop laughing at the back. It's okay to admit in these modern times that you've dabbled with Linux at some point in your life. You might have been drunk, or flirted with it during those care-free college days when life was still exciting and fun. But then you grew up a little and realised Windows was what everyone else used. It had everything you wanted and needed, without all the additional baggage that Linux brought with it.
Linux - or as insane people would like you to call it, Linux-based GNU - can be one funny old fish to fry. It's one of the most stable, secure and flexible operating systems on the planet. It's also free - anyone can install, create and release homemade distributions.
The implications are immense for an ever more locked-down DRM world, with devices that require an advanced OS springing up all over the place. Why should you have to pay the Microsoft tax on each one of those devices when Linux frees you from that expense while remaining totally legal? It enables you to throw installs on your desktops, your servers, your media centre and on as many virtual machines as you have time for. No one's going to try and take your money or, most annoyingly, continuously check and ask you to validate your copy if you happen to change a bit of hardware.
So why won't it take off on the good ship desktop? We think the big stumbling point is gaming. Originally, a large part of that stumbling point was a distinct lack of hardware driver support - more specifically, 3D graphics card drivers. If you can't install a 3D card, you simply won't be playing anything more exciting than Minesweeper or Solitaire.
The good news is that the big three, which is to say Nvidia, AMD and Intel, do provide acceptable driver support. We hesitate to use anything more positive than 'acceptable', as stable and optimised support tends to lag Windows drivers by up to a year. This effectively limits you to slightly older and less-able cards, but it's better than a poke in the eye with a VGA cable.
We'll talk at length on just how to get drivers updated in the box on this page, but to get playable 3D frame-rate performance you'll need to grab the updated ones from your card's manufacturer.
Now, when it comes to updating, that brings on another interesting side of Linux…
If you manage to install Linux without seeing 'the terminal' then you're mistakenly using a Mac. Anyone who tries Linux will discover that at some point they'll have to contend with the terminal and yes, it's as bad as it sounds.
Let's be truthful, all operating systems have a command line interface - it's the base way of running commands. Even from the days of the Atari ST and Amiga, most companies realised that no one wants to use them. Almost thirty years ago, mankind could manufacturer a computer that held a full GUI OS on ROM, so you didn't have to use a bloody command line.
Apple, with its Macintosh, elegantly embraced the new graphical interface, so almost every program - bar the most low-level - offered a graphical interface for us puny humans to use. Linux followed its own path, stubbornly sticking to terminal input as a primary system. So, even today with Ubuntu - which has been diligently designed to be as easy to use as possible - there's no avoiding the terminal. At some point, that black slab of type-based interface is going adorn your screen, like a gravestone marking the death of your happiness.
Maybe we're being a little dramatic here, but when you've spent most of your computing life in a GUI, remembering and typing commands can be a shock. It could also make you look like some super hacker from the movies, but maybe that's just us...
There is, of course, a valid reason for requiring the terminal and that's because the graphical element of Linux is delivered by a system called X Windows or X11. It's a standalone system, badly described as bolted on to the GNU/Linux ecosystem - basically you can't be guaranteed it'll be available.
As Linux was developed, the majority of commands have to assume only terminal input will be available and this goes for a lot of the low-level OS updates and install routines. It simply means that for many of the more basic processes, a terminal is the primary input and output. Even installing the Steam for Linux Beta will involve a segment of updates, where you'll be endlessly typing [Y] into a terminal.
More critically, if anything should go wrong - other than just saying "Sod you, Torvalds!" and reinstalling - you'll be using a terminal to do some serious fire fighting and bug squishing. It's at this stage you realise just how powerful it can be, as you're able to install updates and entire programs over the internet from a single command.
It's also always there, unlike mother, so if the worst should happen pressing [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [F1] always opens a terminal, and [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [F7] takes you to the first X11 interface. So if you know what you're doing, even with broken graphics drivers, it's possible to fight your way back to a working system. Hurrah, we love the terminal!
Did someone make the mention of games earlier? The big great hope for Linux gaming comes in the form of Steam for Linux. Currently just out of beta, we take a quick look at the steps you need to get this installed.
Valve has done a reasonable job of making it easy to install, but even so it hardly fills you with confidence. The beta is officially only aimed at Ubuntu 12.04, though you can obviously try to install it on any flavour of Linux your heart desires, and it will work on many.
Steam for Linux is an ambitious project, as it's attempting to bring native Linux games to the Steam platform. The success of which seems rather limited, with around 55 games - minus demos and expansions packs - currently converted, the majority of which were already natively available on Linux.
Even Valve itself is hardly churning out the titles. It's main, and only, triple-A title for Linux is Team Fortress 2, and while it does run on the Source engine it's still a six-year-old game. The three other games from Valve are the original Half-Life and original Counter-Strike, both of which are nigh on 15-years old. Counter Strike: Source was added on 6 February 2013.
But the major benefit of having Steam on Linux, if you're already a Steam user, is that any game you bought on Windows will still be available. So it's likely you'll have at least one copy of FTL, Amnesia, Killing Floor, World of Goo, Defcon or Darwinia on your books. It keeps your library and the community elements of Steam that you know and love, but brings them to an open OS that you can install on anything.
That brings us on to the mysterious Steam Box from Valve. Little is really known about the project at this point, though Gabe Newell did talk about it a little at CES 2013, where Valve was holding closed-door discussions with up to 20 potential hardware partners.
From what was said, we do know that a Valve 'Steam Box' is going to be running Linux and likely be released in 2014. It'll be a small-box PC without an optical drive, and it should have the capability of driving remote screens around the home. It sounds like the base system could even be a smart-streaming box, using the processing power of your main PC to do the 3D donkey work, while extending the HDMI output to your HDTV.
It will, of course, run Steam in its Big Picture mode, providing access to your account, chat and games library. It's open in as much as it's a standard PC that other manufacturers can produce, but whether you'll be able to run standard Linux programs and how exposed the OS will be is unknown. Valve is also offering productivity software via Steam, so that might circumvent that issue to a degree.
You need to realise that Steam as an online gaming distribution platform is huge. Steam accounted for at least 50 per cent of the $4 billion worth online sales in 2011, and estimates go as far as 75 per cent. The huge disparity is no one knows how much money Valve actually makes, but we can imagine it's a pretty penny.
With all that muscle, could Valve really walk in with a Linux-based console and proclaim "Start making games!" and expect companies to do just that? Or indeed to re-engineer their entire back catalogue to run natively on Linux? All the while, expecting a gaming community to drop their PCs and pick one up? Surely there's a better way?
There is another way and that's using Wine, a recursive acronym that proves how clever everyone is, standing for Wine Is Not an Emulator - an acronym that makes a very good point.
An emulator seeks to mimic the original runtime hardware and software environment by translating the code to run on an entirely new system. Wine does no such thing - it redirects system calls to suitable alternative Linux-based ones, all running directly on the native x86 processor.
An alternative name would be a wrapper, the like of which was used for the DirectX version of Half-Life. At the time it was an OpenGL-developed game based on the Quake engine. To enable a DirectX compatible version, the most elegant solution was to create a wrapper that would translate OpenGL calls into DirectX ones, with almost no slow down or side-effects.
The most interesting aspect of Wine is that it caters for more than just games, as it'll attempt to enable a host of standard Windows software to run under Linux. Wine is an awesome way of running Windows software via Linux - that is, if you like bugs.
Wine breaks compatibility down into four levels: Platinum for flawless compatibility, Gold for great use with special settings, Silver and Bronze are for games with minor issues and Garbage covers, well, garbage. Over 3,400 games are listed as Platinum, just over 5,500 as Gold or Silver, while over 6,000 games are rated Bronze or worse.
Interestingly, Wine concentrates on the core Windows API and doesn't concern itself with how well individual games or software actually work. This means there's a host of add-on systems that attempt to tune Wine for individual games, and a list can be found at http://wiki.winehq.org/ThirdPartyApplications.
Recently, id co-founder John Carmack tweeted that creating native mainstream Linux games makes no business sense for any company. Largely this comes from id's dabble with Quake Arena and Quake Live, with Carmack adding: "The conventional wisdom is that native Linux games are not a good market." He went on to say that a Wine-style layer "could allow developers to get Linux versions with little more effort than supporting, say, Windows XP."
They're interesting words, and perhaps that's what Valve is planning with the Steam Box - whatever it is, it'll be more than a little interesting.
As a day-to-day OS, Linux is used by millions of people all around the globe. The X11 interface has been developed on for years and offers some lovely touches, while Ubuntu comes with multi-desktop built-in and it's easy to add more extensions than we have space for.
As it was created by programmers, for programmers, it's a fantastic development platform for coders - so if you've got a passion for code or are looking to give it a go then there's no better platform.
As we've already mentioned, it's also used to drive the majority of the world's web servers, so using it to learn and develop web APIs is never going to be a bad thing. It's not even like you have to abandon Windows - you can still cling to your favourite Microsoft OS and still dabble with a little Linux debauchery. It's one of the great advantages of Linux that you can head over to www.virtualbox.org, download it and fire it up on a virtual machine running Linux - just grab an ISO of your favourite Linux distribution and install.
This effectively gives you a perfectly safe and flexible environment to learn and use Linux within. Don't forget to create a snapshot of a clean build, so even if you utterly break an install, it's just a click away from being totally restored.
This week we've seen a pilotless passenger-plane hit the British skies, the last barrier to human cloning be breached, and we've found a large cache of water, untouched by the rest of the world for at least one billion years, buried 1.5 miles deep within the Earth.
And as if that wasn't enough, the world's first lab-grown burger made from bovine neck stem cells in a petri dish will hit the grill of an undisclosed London location.
Which makes us beg the question - could you stomach test-tube meat?
First lab-grown burger ready for tasting -- A record-breaking taste test will soon be underway in London when the world's first laboratory-grown burger will be cooked and eaten. The meat, which is grown from cow neck stem cells invitro under carefully controlled conditions, costs over £210,000. And that makes it one of the most expensive pieces of meat ever cooked. While the quantity of burgers available and venue are currently unknown, the researchers behind the cowless beef say it tastes "reasonably good". It might be a while before lab-burgers hit your local takeaway though. [The Register]
First pilotless passenger-plane manages 800km journey over Britain -- We've seen many unmanned military drones make their way to the skies, but now a passenger plane has managed to fly itself - completely pilotless - from Lancashire to Scotland through civilian airspace without a hitch.
A flesh-and-blood pilot took the controls for take-off and landing, with the plane flying fully autonomously in between. Not only that, but the plane was thrown dummy obstacles to avoid, with fake planes being entered into its flight data, forcing it to make flight-path corrections in the same way a real pilot would. The next step is to construct a digital eyeball capable of discerning complex objects, like the difference between a hot-air balloon and a cloud, but soon UAVs could be free to roam our skies. [New Scientist]
Astronauts take a trip into the void of space to fix leaking pump -- While NASA does have a few robots up in space to do its bidding, there are some things that real men still have to do. Two astronauts were forced into an impromptu EVA to replace a pump on the outside of the ISS, which was leaking ammonia into space and threatening the operation of one of the solar power generators. Thankfully everything was fixed without issue, but not before providing some amazing new images. Sometimes, even in the technological age of space stations, you still need a good old screwdriver and wrench. [NASA]
The last barrier to human cloning has been breached -- For the first time scientists have managed to clone a human stem cell, meaning that human cloning is now fully possible. Ever since Dolly the sheep became the first cloned animal, researchers have been using human stem cells to try and clone human cells, treading a very thing ethical line.
Now, via a similar process to the cloning of Dolly the sheep, nuclear transfer has been perfected in humans. Simply by taking the nucleus of one foetal stem cell and inserting it into an egg cell with its own DNA removed, you produce a clone cell that can then divide and grow as normal. Years of research and careful tweaks to the biochemical process have made this breakthrough possible, meaning we could now actually make a full-formed human clone, not that anyone is suggesting we do that, of course. Instead, this new source of cells will pave the way for possible repair of tissue and organ damage in degenerative diseases, as well as medical studies on human cell lines that weren't possible before. The hope is that the same technique can be used to produce cells from adult stem cells soon too. [Nature]
Malaria boosts mosquito sense of smell -- Researchers have discovered that the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, actually enhances the host mosquito's sense of smell making them bite humans more often. In fact, in a recent study, infected mosquitoes were three-times more likely to bite a human, simply from the odour of said human's feet. In the wild, that super-sense of smell allows the enhanced spread of the parasite, but more over, shows how the parasite can cause real, physical and neurological changes in the host. Now all we need is a way to block that change, or a way to mask the particular chemical signature that mosquitoes lock onto. [PLoS One]
Water untouched for 1 billion years could hold clue to formation of life -- Scientists in Ontario, Canada, have discovered free-flowing water, 1.5 miles below the Earth's surface that has been isolated from the world for at least 1 billion years, possibly even as long as 2.6 billion years.
The water contains both methane and hydrogen, two key components in the formation of life. Now researchers are carefully studying samples of the water for evidence of microbial life, which could have a massive impact on our theories of life on other planets, and life on Mars, deep below the barren landscape. [Nature]
Alligators replace their pearly whites once a year -- Alligators house about 80 teeth in their snappers, and new research has shown that they replace them all about once a year. Through molecular analysis and X-ray imaging, scientists discovered that alligators have a band of tooth stem cells that sit within their jaws, pumping out replacement teeth on command.
When an alligator loses a tooth, a whole host of chemicals instruct the stem cells to produce a new replacement, with each new tooth actually forming a family unit consisting of the main tooth, a replacement bud and the band of dental tissue. There's hope that, through analysis of the chemical composition of the tooth-growing trigger, we could induce the same effect within our own jaws, which carry remnants of dental stem cells too. One day the dentist could simply inject your gum with a cocktail of chemicals, inducing new teeth to grow and push out the old ones, just like when you were a child. [PNAS]
Fish are packing up and moving on because of the heat -- Global warming isn't just causing hotter weather on land, it's also increasing the temperature of large swaths of our oceans. Now it's been discovered that many fish populations are migrating out of their traditional habitats into cooler waters, impacting on diversity in these areas and reducing fish stocks. Combined with overfishing, it's rapidly depleting whole sections of historically highly-populated parts of the oceans, which is seriously bad news for costal regions that rely on fish for their livelihoods. [Nature]
Many of those set-top boxes hidden under televisions are already running Linux. And despite their lack of CPU power, they're all more than capable of recording and playing several channels at the same time, as well as streaming the data across your local network.
The Raspberry Pi is perfectly suited to this, too, and with the appropriate hardware it can be turned into a powerful low-cost digital video recorder, complete with media streaming, scheduling and time shift.
The appropriate hardware is the key phrase in the previous paragraph, because a painless installation is mostly dependent on your television-grabbing hardware 'just working'.
Fortunately, Linux has support for a great many such devices built in to the kernel, so many will work without modification.
And while these instructions start from the command line, we've split the entire tutorial into 10 different steps, hopefully making the project as easy to follow as possible.
At the end of this project, you'll find yourself with a fully-fledged digital TV recording platform, capable of recording multiple programmes from multiple sources, all running from the humble Raspberry Pi. It's the perfect backend for the just-released XBMC, which you'll be able to use as a front-end from any other computer on the same network.
We tested and configured two USB receiver devices, one for grabbing terrestrial digital television through an aerial and another for grabbing the data from a satellite feed. We'll include instructions for both.
For DVB-T (terrestrial) reception, we used a Sundtek MediaTV Pro, for DVB-S (satellite) reception, we used the Sundtek SkyTV Ultimate. The latter includes a 12v power adaptor that also needs to be connected.
But here's the most important requirement: these USB devices must be attached to the Raspberry Pi through a powered USB hub. We wasted two days trying to configure the system, firstly without a hub and secondly with an incompatible hub. In both cases, everything appeared to work but the devices wouldn't find any television channels in a scan. Switching to a powered hub compatible with the Raspberry Pi solved the problem, so we can't emphasise this point enough.
Plug a hub into a power supply, connect your USB receiver to the hub and the hub to the Pi. And don't forget to connect the aerial or satellite feed to your receiver.
We're assuming you've got a Raspberry Pi pre-configured and updated with the Raspbian distribution. We're also assuming it's connected to the internet and that you're typing your commands into the console directly or over an SSH session.
Our next consideration is going to be where you store the television recordings. We'd recommend connecting an external USB hard drive, as the constant read/write access will test the average SD card to its limits.
To add storage like this, simply plug the device into a spare USB port and check the output from the system logs by typing tail /var/log/ messages. You'll see output similar to usb 1-188.8.131.52: New USB device, and you'll need to look for the device identifier, which should look something like sda: sda1 – sda is the device itself, while sda1 is a partition.
Type sudo mkdir /mnt/storage to create a mount point and sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/storage/ to connect it to your external device.
Depending on the television hardware you're using, this step might be unnecessary. If you've chosen a device that's compatible with Linux and requires no additional driver files, then you can simply plug in your device and move on to the next step.
For our Sundtek devices, we need to download and install a driver. This is easy. From the Raspberry Pi command line, type:
chmod 777 sundtek_netinst.sh
The final line will execute the script that's downloaded in the first line. It will then detect the system you're running and install the latest version of the drivers. It will leave the drivers running and configured to launch at boot.
For users of the DVB-T version, you will also need to execute this command:
This will ensure the card is configured for terrestrial reception, rather than a 'cable' source, which the device is also capable of.
The piece of software we're going to use to record and stream the digital television signal is called Tvheadend. There's a plugin for the just-released XBMC that will turn this awesome media player into a fully-fledged digital video recorder, with Tvheadend doing the hard work in the background from your Raspberry Pi.
Because Tvheadend is a tool that's constantly being developed, we used the development version, but you could just as easily use the OpenElec distribution instead of Raspbian if you wanted to skip this step.
Fortunately, building it is easy. First, install the development and DVB tools:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unzip libcurl4-openssl-dev pkg-config git build-essential dvb-apps gcc-4.7
The final step is to download the latest version of Tvheadend from the developer's repository using git, and to build this using the build trinity of ./configure, make and sudo make install:
CC=gcc-4.7 ./configure; make; sudo make install
Tvheadend's user interface is accessible through a web browser, but first you need to start it. As this is the first time, we're going to run the service in Configuration mode, and as a daemon, which means it becomes a background process. To do this, type the following:
tvheadend -C -d
Now open a browser, preferably from another machine on the network, and enter http://ip_of_rpi:9981/extjs.html
You can discover the IP address of your Raspberry Pi by typing ifconfig and looking for the value next to the 'inet addr' field for the 'eth1' device. Your browser will load the default frontend to Tvheadend. This is where you'll eventually see all your program data and set up and view recordings.
We need to tell it how to use the TV hardware we've connected. This can be done by clicking Configuration > TV Adaptors and selecting your device from the drop-down menu on the left. As the next steps are going to depend on whether you're receiving a satellite signal or a signal through your aerial, we're going to briefly separate the next steps. For satellite receivers, carry on. For terrestrial reception, jump to step 7.
Satellite reception is easiest to configure. With the adapter selected, the General page will show an overview of the configuration. First, click on the Enable tick box, followed by Save. We want to add some channel information, and this is done by adding the data for finding a satellite and the multiplexes it provides and then searching these multiplexes for channels that can be received.
Tvheadend bundles the data for satellite location, so you just need to click on the Add DVB Network by location button on the left. This will open a window containing a global list of satellites. For the UK and Northern Europe, your best option is Astra_28_2E.
After selecting the satellite, Tvheadend will add a list of multiplexes associated with that satellite to the Multiplexes tab. These will now be scanned for channels, and you can watch the scanning progress in the Capabilities box on the right of the General page.
If everything is working, you should see many services (channels) detected and added to the Services page. For Astra_28_2E, we detected 970 services from 98 muxes. Unless you want to also configure your system for terrestrial viewing, skip to step 8.
First, enable the receiver in the general page. Tvheadend includes a broad database of transmitters pre-configured with the details for each multiplex. You'll need to know which transmitter your aerial is pointing at.
In the UK, we've found that www.digitaluk.co.uk/postcodechecker is the best site for telling you which transmitter you're likely to be using. When you know, you simply need to click on the Add DVB Network button from the adaptor's General tab and find the transmitter 'By location'.
Our local transmitter wasn't listed. The solution was to go to www.ukfree.tv/transmitters.php, enter our postcode, and add the details for each multiplex manually. This can be done from the Multiplexes tab for the adaptor by clicking on Add mux(es) manually. In the window that appears, you will need to enter the frequency, bandwidth and constellation for each multiplex, while setting everything else as Auto. This data can be gleaned from the website.
You'll typically need to do this for three or four muxes, depending on your location. Tvheadend will scan them for services/channels and add them to your configuration.
You've hopefully got a healthy list of services extracted from the multiplexes. The next step is to allow Tvheadend to divine TV channels from those services, and this can be done from the adaptor's General tab by clicking on the Map DVB Services To Channels button. You'll hopefully be left with a list of channels to watch in the Channels page outside of the adaptor configuration area.
The default location for recordings will need to be changed - probably to the mount point we created at the beginning. The location can be changed by selecting the Digital Video Recorder page and changing the Recording System path. You must save the configuration on this page for any changes to take effect.
You will also need to configure the electronic program guide. There's usually a minimum of What's On Now and What's On Next embedded within each channel, but services such as Freeview and Freesat in the UK transmit a more comprehensive seven-day EPG. These can be enabled by selecting the EPG Grabber page, followed by clicking on either service in the Over-The-Air-Grabbers section. Don't forget to click on Save Configuration.
After a while, you should notice the Electronic Program Guide page starts to populate itself with the broadcasts you can now watch or schedule to record. Clicking on any program will open another window, allowing you to set up a recording.
A secondary option, labelled Autorec, is more interesting. It sets up a search based on the same program data so you can record a full series without relying on series link data being embedded within the EPG. Depending on the number of channels and the amount of EPG data, this view can get unwieldy quickly.
To solve this, you can filter what's shown using the row of options at the top of the list. You can search for part of a title, or limit the list to a single channel or filter tag. If you find a filter you like, clicking on the Create Autorec button will add that search to Tvheadend, which will then record everything it finds that matches the search.
To remove scheduled recordings, click on the Digital Video Recorder tab. Upcoming recordings can be removed from the first page, while Autorec filters can be removed from the last. The centre pages can be used to play or delete recordings that have been made, or check why a recording might not have worked.
By installing a VLC plugin into your browser, you can watch your recordings and live TV in your browser. We've only tried this feature in Firefox, but when you click on a program that's being broadcast, you get the option to Play. If the VLC plugin isn't installed, you'll be asked if you want to install it.
With the plugin installed, an embedded window appears showing the program. With the controls at the top of this window, you can watch full-screen or pause the current broadcast. You can watch programs you've recorded in the same way from the Digital Video Recorder page.
If you'd rather not use a browser, drag and drop the network URL into VLC on a different machine, or read one of our file sharing tutorials to learn how to share the recordings folder across your network.
However, in our opinion the best way of using Tvheadend is with the new version of XBMC. It includes a plugin that can talk with Tvheadend directly, downloading the EPG from your Raspberry Pi, and enabling you to watch live channels, and schedule and watch recordings. It's simple to set up - just visit XBMC's PVR plugin page; but as we're planning on covering XBMC in plenty of detail next month, we'll leave this as a piece of homework!
Up to the £1,000 (AU$1,530, US$1,500) mark, there's are a huge variety of different specs you can throw into a PC and still come out with a decent gaming rig. Just look at the Daw Computers machine and the Vibox Power FX.
Above that price point though, things stagnate very quickly. From here until the crazy-priced machines with their hex-core Sandy Bridge Extreme and octo-core Xeons, it's all about the Core i7 3770K and whatever overclock the SI can squeeze out of it - and, of course, the Z77 motherboard.
This Wired2Fire machine comes slap-bang in between the lower-end machines, like the Daw and Vibox rigs, and the top-tier Titan machines that are starting to pop up everywhere. But when you compare it with those £2,000+ (about AU$3,000+, US$3,000+) rigs, the only real difference you'll see is in the choice of graphics card that's been used.
At the £1,600 (about AU$2,460, US$2,430) Wired2Fire is targeting with the Diablo Phantom, you're moving away from the cheaper machines that will usually sacrifice some general niceties for top CPU and GPU combos and are getting a full gaming PC with all the benefits you'd expect from a premium rig.
That means that as well as the ubiquitously overclocked 3770K, you've got a quality Asus P8Z77-V motherboard, a huge amount of quick Corsair Vengeance system memory and lots of data storage, as well as two Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB SSDs.
The Diablo Phantom has taken the odd step of using a RAID array to give the SandForce-powered Kingston HyperX 3K drives a bit of a speed boost. But the extra boost from RAID is negligible when you start to include the problems of incompressible data handling you get with SandForce.
The NZXT Phantom chassis that Wired2Fire has used in this build is visually striking but somewhat disappointing. It looks pretty funky from a distance, but when you get up close you can see the plastic of the orange detailing hasn't been finished that well. However, it does run much quieter than the DinoPC Titanosaurus Rex.
CPU encoding performance
X264 v4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better
DIABLO PHANTOM: 51.44
TITANSAURUS REX: 51.61
DirectX 11 tessellation performance
Heaven 4.0: Frames per second: Higher is better
DIABLO PHANTOM: 23.7
TITANSAURUS REX: 35.2
DirectX 11 1080p gaming performance
Crysis 3: Frames per second: Higher is better
DIABLO PHANTOM: 50
TITANSAURUS REX: 66
Unfortunately, the active cooling doesn't seem to be sufficient for the chip to run stably at the 4.7GHz it came clocked at out of the box. We managed an initial successful run of Cinebench, but further runs fell over and even once we'd taken it down a notch to 4.6GHz (which is what all our benchmarks were run at afterwards), the X264 test struggled to complete.
Once it's running, this is a decent rig, and although it's not quite in the same league as the Titans, it's not far off - especially when you consider it's substantially cheaper than the DinoPC and can still happily knock around 2,560 x 1,600 gaming.
Debating the merits of Nokia's decision to go Windows Phone-exclusive is liable to spark an outbreak of vicious bickering in these parts.
But you can't deny that Nokia's Lumia handsets are slowly getting better and better. Whether or not you like the brightly coloured designs, Windows Phone 8 has become a fantastic OS and so we were happy this week to have our first taste of the new flagship Nokia Lumia 925.
That wasn't all either – we've played with some fun toys in the last seven days so have a browse and make sure you haven't missed anything exciting…
The Nokia Lumia 925 is a tricky beast to rate. Nokia tells us that this is a phone designed for the more technologically minded, the person that wants the latest and greatest handset from the brand. However it seems that person would be disappointed by the Lumia 925, with its average specs and minimal upgrade from the 920 - at least when it comes to the internals. But there's no doubting that it's going to be a market-leading cameraphone, and with things like the dedicated camera button (sounds obvious, but makes a huge difference) the 925 is definitely going to be a front runner for anyone that wants one of the most powerful portable cameras around.
First impressions of the Samsung PS64F8500 in action are little short of dazzling. Literally. The huge screen defies not only every plasma TV we've seen before but even our expectations of what plasma is capable of by serving up extreme levels of brightness that actually manage to rival those that have proved so useful in making LCD the most popular TV option. Even more amazingly, these unprecedented plasma brightness levels remain seemingly completely intact if you turn all the lights in your room up to max, because Samsung's new on-screen filter design stops plasma cells being 'infiltrated' by ambient light.
The BlackBerry Q5 is one for the aficionados who can't afford, or refuse to splash cash on the highly priced Q10, with the solid BlackBerry typing experience at the heart of everything it does. Without knowing the price it's difficult to say how it will stand up against other handsets, but anyone who isn't a BlackBerry fan and is in the market for a reasonably priced smartphone probably won't be taken with the Q5. That said if BlackBerry manage to price the Q5 low enough it would make it a seriously attractive proposition with its decent power under the hood, HD display and rapid internet browser. We're just going to have to wait and see.
Cameras and camcorders
"Anonymously find friends who are down for the night!" reads the Bang With Friends mobile app description on Google Play. "Your friends will never know you're interested unless they are too!"
While the Android version of the Facebook-based, bang-finding application is still bumping and grinding, today Apple reportedly yanked it from the iOS App Store. Even after taking some of the naughty out of the name by rechristening it "BWF," it looks as though Apple still wasn't down to keep the party going.
It's not quite clear why Apple ended the relationship, but the Bang With Friends website confidently states "Be right back - We're working with Apple to get BWF back into the App Store shortly." God's speed, BWF.
Our news nugget blips will never leave you high and dry.
Yahoo is hosting a product-related press event on May 20 (that's this upcoming Monday) in New York City, with CEO Marissa Mayer holding court.
CNBC first tweeted the news today: "Yahoo to hold a product-related news event in New York City on Monday; CEO Marissa Mayer to speak at event."
Official press invites started trickling out following after the tweet went live, revealing it's happening at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET/1 a.m. BST.
"Join us as we share something special," the purple invite read. A live stream of the proceedings will also reportedly be provided, though details on that are currently scarce.
What exactly will be announced at the shotgun happening is a mystery, though curiously the news comes hours after reports surfaced the company is in talks to purchase microblogging site Tumblr for $1 billion (about UK£659 million, AU$1 billion).
There's a particular urgency about a Tumblr purchase as GigaOm reported Yahoo fears Facebook might swoop in to steal the site at the last minute. Putting a deal out in the public eye sooner rather than later looks like good strategy to keep the the social network wolves away.
We won't know for sure what Yahoo has up its sleeve until Monday, but tune back in for more then.
Though being so popular it's impossible to keep up with the demand would normally be viewed as a good problem to have, it's causing a bit of a burden for HTC.
There's so much interest in the company's new flagship phone, the HTC One, the Taiwanese manufacturer can't quite keep its supply chains up and running.
The HTC One had a delayed launch to allow for more of the smartphones to be pushed off the assembly lines, which cost the phone maker quite a bit of money, and led to a release closer to the rival Samsung Galaxy S4.
Coupled with the bad break HTC caught with its Facebook phone, the HTC First, which is fending off rumors of discontinuation, it's no wonder the company will be doubling down on its efforts to produce as many HTC Ones as possible in the coming months.
According to a new report from Focus Taiwan, the month-to-month production of the HTC One is increasing sharply to accommodate surging demand.
HTC will not only bump up manufacturing in May two-fold from April's numbers, but will also jack up the number of smartphones being created in June as well.
"Our capacity is expected to rise significantly starting from mid-May," Jack Tong, president of HTC North Asia, said in the report.
"We are optimistic about our high-end sales during April and June."
While the initial delay was caused by a shortage in the custom camera components created for the HTC One, it now appears HTC will stop at nothing to make sure enough of the phones are made available to wanting customers.
The stellar device is one of the few to garner a five-star rating from our reviewers, so it's little wonder the 4.7-inch Android BoomSound beast is desired by so many consumers.
Still, the wait means more potential buyers could be swayed into purchasing the Galaxy S4, or even the iPhone 5, rather than waiting for more of the device we called "the best phone on the market."
With Google's Galaxy S4 heading to market soon, the One will face even further competition.
Nvidia's Android-powered portable video game system Shield is available for pre-order today.
That's three days earlier than the previous pre-order date of May 20, and according to Nvidia's announcement, the bump-up is at the behest of retailers.
"Good news," the announcement harped. "Our partners are so excited about Shield that they're moving up the pre-order date for our amazing new open platform gaming portable. You can now pre-order your Shield today."
The Nvidia Shield is available for pre-order now at GameStop, Newegg, Canada Computer, and through Nvidia's own site. Micro Center's pre-orders will go live "within the next few days."
It's a portable gaming device that looks like an Xbox controller with a 5-inch display strapped on top.
Home to 16GB of storage and able to play most Android games, another big draw of the system is its capacity to play games streaming from a PC over Wi-Fi. That is, if the PC has a GTX 650 graphics processor or higher.
Android gaming is perhaps not what it could be, though exciting projects like Nvidia's Shield and Ouya may change that soon enough.
Still, Shield may prove to be a niche product, especially with unfortunate limitations like the GPU requirement.
Expect to see the Shield on shelves in early June.
Only at Google IO in techy-savvy San Francisco could a Google Glass wearer walk the streets relatively unnoticed. A limited number of these new wearable computing devices have been among the public for months now, and they generally elicit double takes and curious stares.
There were plenty of those lucky Glass owners among the IO crowd, as well as Google reps standing by to demonstrate the technology. At the conference, we had the opportunity to try on Glass, and unbox one of the kits passed out to select developers.
Just like a normal pair of glasses, Google Glass needs just a bit of adjustment to be worn properly. It mainly comes down to the nose pads, which make sure that Glass' titanium band runs slightly above the eye line, like a sunshade or visor.
That way, the rectangular screen, which looks something like a prism, sits just above the eye. Using the screen requires you to look up slightly, which helps to keep your field of vision unobstructed.
The striking thing about this new tech is that even though you're wearing it, it does a good job of getting out of the way when not in use. Glass' display quickly goes dim, like an idle smartphone. Still, even when it is in use, it's easy to see the world around you.
Wearing Glass for the first time, we were struck by how light and unobtrusive it was. Lighter than a pair of normal spectacles, we imagine it would be easy to forget you were wearing them, if not for all the stares.
Glass is initially activated with a power button found on the inside portion. When you wear it, this switch is not easily accessible, so turning it fully on or off is done only when they are removed.
Glass goes to sleep when not in use, and you can wake it by simply nodding up. This isn't just to save power, but to keep your field of vision clear when you don't need any info. Google reps said that Glass' battery would last all day with "average use." Just like a smartphone, it has micro-USB for charging, and lots of video recording will wear it down before the day is out.
The Google Glass interface is a lot like Google Now, which is found on any Android Jelly Bean smartphone. From the main screen, saying "Ok, Glass," gets the device's attention, so to speak, and prompts Glass to show you available commands.
There are also Google Now cards - screens of information related to recent searches. They're pretty minimalist, white text on a black background, sometimes with a single image. We swiped through nearby restaurants, email chains and recently captured pictures and videos. This is done using a touchpad built into the right side of the headset. You can also tap to make selections.
While Glass has its own hard drive (ours had 12GB available), Wi-Fi connection, GPS, and processor (no specifics on the core), all working from Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, it works best as an extension of your smartphone.
It can pair with an Android phone using Bluetooth, which allows it to make calls as well as send and receive text messages. In that way it felt more like the ultimate hands-free device than a wearable computer.
It also suffers a similar stigma to the Bluetooth earpiece, in that it's distracting, and a bit goofy looking. Basically, you're like something out of Star Trek. Whether that's Geordi La Forge or a Borg drone is in the eye of the beholder. The irony is that it's technology designed for subtly that ends up speaking volumes.
Speaking of speaking, Google Glass can actually talk to you. There's a little speaker that sits over your right ear. Google reps described it as a bone-vibrating speaker, like something Snake would use behind enemy lines in Metal Gear Solid. Really though, it struck us just your average speaker, and was completely audible to someone standing within earshot, providing the room wasn't too loud.
We asked Glass who the president of the United States was, and it responded with a snippet of Barack Obama's biography. We had trouble hearing it over the din of the show floor, but moving to a back room, it was perfectly audible, and spoke in the sort of lady robot voice of Google Now.
The Google rep guiding our demo joked that Glass would make terrible surveillance technology, and that's by design. Google is actively trying to reduce the voyeur factor by making it rather obvious when Glass is engaged. The screen emits a glow when in use, and spoken commands like "take a picture" make sure those around you are clued in to what you're doing.
You also have to look up to read the screen, so broken eye contact will be a dead giveaway. Your friends will know when you're checking football scores instead of listening to them.
It was also far less like augmented reality than we'd imagined. Putting it on, we thought we see an HUD of some sort, like in a first-person shooter video game. Really though, we felt more like a multitasking administrator than Robocop on patrol for creeps. Even the GPS function just gives you a top down view, with a blue arrow representing your location, just like Google Maps on your phone.
The version of Google Glass on demo at IO was a prototype, an early developer or "explorer" version, as Google likes to call them. Given that, there wasn't a whole lot of functionality available to it.
Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times and a few more have apps on the way, but until then, Glass feels more like raw potential than an actual tool.
The interface is also pretty unintuitive, especially the touchpad part. Since only one "card" is visible at a time, you're stuck swiping through them all until you find what you want. We found it easier to just ask Glass to find something again, rather than swipe around for previously accessed information.
Is Glass cool and entirely novel? Yes, it certainly is. Is it a device that will change the life of, or even just prove useful to, the average consumer? That's doubtful.
Glass as we tried it felt like something that would be useful to folks in specialized roles. A surgeon, an engineer, a warehouse foremen or a certain type of viral video filmmaker will likely find a lot of compelling things to do with Glass.
As for the average person, it's a bit of a paradox. We can think of a dozen times where we've been cooking, cleaning or driving and would've loved to have had hands-free, subtle access to Google's wealth of information. But to do so, we've got to wear a piece of headgear that's distracting to those around us.
We also wondered how Google plans to curate the apps that become avaialable for Glass. We've heard about plans for apps that will allow wearers to snap pictures with a wink, which seems to go against Google's plan to keep Glass behavior obvious to those around you.
Google Glass is expected to arrive for public consumption in 2014. When it does arrive, it may change lives, but most likely not your life, or the lives of those around you.
Nintendo announced this morning that several of its unreleased Wii U games will be playable at 100 Best Buy stores across the U.S. and Canada during the week of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June.
E3 is gaming's biggest event, but these days Nintendo is more interested in interacting directly with fans.
That's evident in the company's Nintendo Direct videos, a series of live streamed presentations that anyone can watch online.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime announced the partnership with Best Buy during today's Nintendo Direct.
Fils-Aime did not reveal what games will be playable at Best Buy stores, and it's unknown what new games Nintendo will be showing off at E3.
"This year we're making E3 for the people," he said. "We want to make sure you get the chance to try our games as well."
The Mario maker announced in April that it will not hold a traditional press conference during the expo, instead hosting more low-key demos for press.
With Nintendo game demos coming to Best Buy stores as well, it seems press and fans will be getting the same E3 experience for once, at least where Nintendo is concerned.
During today's Nintendo Direct video Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata revealed new games like Sonic: Lost World and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games as well as release dates for The Wonderful 101 and Super Luigi U.
All eyes are on the new Xbox, set to be announced on May 21 in Redmond, Wash., but in additional all the next-gen festivities, Microsoft also plans on updating the Xbox 360 dashboard, according to a report out today.
The Xbox 360 dashboard update for 2013 is meant to help gamers transition over to the next-generation Xbox, according unnamed sources who talked with The Verge.
Microsoft wants to ensure that messaging, beacons and achievements carry over to the new console while also experimenting with the user interface a bit, the report claimed.
Specifically, the Xbox 360 dashboard UI tweaks are said to make it look more consistent with the planned Windows 8.1 design thanks to smaller Live Tiles.
Currently, the video game console sports a Metro interface with larger tiles, which replaced the "New Xbox Experience" and original five "Blades" design.
It's unclear when Microsoft plans to launch the Live Tile version of the Xbox 360 dashboard, but the report does indicate that there will be a late June or early July public beta test.
The company has consistently released a public beta of its dashboard updates in the summer in an effort to test and hype the changes that become public in the fall.
That would be perfect timing for gamers to prepare for the new Xbox hardware, which is expected to hit shelves before the end of the year to challenge Sony's PS4.
Likely changes to the Xbox 360 dashboard may include darker and lighter themes compared to the system's current Metro interface, according to The Verge.
Additionally, when the new update rolls out, it may very well mark the end of the Microsoft Points currency system, which the company first introduced alongside Xbox Live in 2005.
With the Xbox brand taking its lead from Windows 8, some have suggest that the name of the new system could very well be Xbox Infinity - the number side turned on its side.
Microsoft is expected to reveal the true name of the new Xbox along with what may be the final Xbox 360 dashboard update on Tuesday. TechRadar will be in Redmond to cover the event live, so be sure to tune in at 10 a.m. PT/6 p.m. BST for the latest news.
Updated: Our iOS 6 review has been overhauled to include the iOS 6.1 software updates.
On the surface, it might not look like much has changed with iOS 6 and the subsequent minor iOS 6.1 updates. However, Apple has added a number of new features over iOS 5, along with continuing in its mission to eradicate Google from the system by default. Apple's YouTube app has gone (Google has since released its own on to the App Store) and Maps now runs with Apple power rather than Google juice.
Elsewhere, the OS is more social (Facebook now joining Twitter in being baked in), Siri's been improved, and countless tweaks (some fairly major from a usability standpoint) are in evidence in the likes of Mail, Safari, Phone and the iOS stores.
Oh, and Apple finally added a clock app to the iPad, which resulted in a legal spat with the Swiss railway network service. It seems not only Samsung is in the photocopying business.
iOS 6 ditches support entirely for the original iPad, but is nonetheless compatible with a surprisingly wide range of devices; iPhones back to the 3GS are supported, as are both the fourth- and fifth-generation iPod touch.
However, the older the kit, the less of iOS 6 you actually get. Some of the big features - Siri, turn-by-turn navigation, panoramic photos and FaceTime over 3G - aren't available for the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4.
The iPhone 3GS doesn't even get Safari's offline Reading List feature, and Siri's not available for the iPad 2.
So is it worth the upgrade? We've installed iOS 6 (and iOS 6.1) across multiple iOS devices to find out. Our test kit is an iPhone 4, an iPhone 4S, an iPod touch (fourth-generation), an iPhone 5, an iPad 2, and a new iPad (courtesy of Vodafone).
There are more new features than you'd think, even when you don't get all the new features.
A common criticism of iOS is that Apple never radically updates it. Tech pundits in particular often use words like 'tired' and 'dated' to describe the operating system, suggesting it would be better if you could weld Android-like widgets to it, or if every home screen icon was more akin to a hyperactive child begging for attention, as per Live Tiles on Windows 8.
iOS 6 is typically Apple in being purely iterative. You get the familiar grid of icons on each home screen, and the screens can be swiped between.
Double-clicking the Home button reveals the multitasking tray, which also houses media controls, the rotation lock and an AirPlay button. Swipe left from the first home screen and you access Spotlight, Apple's system-wide search.
So far, so iOS 5, and that level of familiarity will either be warming or maddening, depending on your persuasion. Regardless, it's definitely very usable, even if configuration options on offer are few in number and rapid-sorting settings are non-existent.
However, there have been some small adjustments. The status bar now changes colour on a per-app basis, in an attempt to blend in. This is more visually appealing but muddies the water when it comes to alerts that were once made in part through a change in colour of said status bar.
Better amendments are the new audio controls on the Lock screen and Spotlight search results now displaying the name of an app's containing folder. Apple's penchant for cropping text labels remains frustrating, though, and is increasingly common throughout the OS.
We feared the worst: with Apple giving Google Maps data the boot in favour of its own, we half expected an app that was just great in America and utterly useless in the UK. We were wrong, but that's not to say Maps is without its issues - and people have since its launch taken to the web to express their displeasure at the new app.
The app uses data from TomTom, including free live traffic information - something you have to pay extra for in TomTom's own iPhone app. The UK maps are generally very good, offering turn-by-turn navigation that Siri can read aloud if you wish.
Most of the app's problems appear to stem from a lack of maturity compared to Google's offering, combined with some missing features. Results based on imprecise locations are frequently poor.
'Stansted' in Google Maps gave us London Stansted Airport during testing; in Maps, a village in Kent. 'Luton' in Maps gave us a village in Devon whereas Google Maps more sensibly defaulted to the large town near London. These problems are endemic, although locations are generally found correctly when you enter more information, such as a post code.
Local search is also extremely variable. Restaurant reviews from Yelp are integrated but are typically sparse or unavailable entirely if you live in a rural area.
Business locations are peppered with errors, such as occasional American spellings (for example, "Exhibition Center") and mapping glitches, such as the one that identified our local Italian restaurant as a Sainsbury's supermarket 15 miles away.
The experience smacks of a lack of testing, and it's not good enough for a feature Apple boasted was best-in-class rather than a beta that required a ton of crowdsourcing for errors.
There were other aspects of Google Maps we missed. Apple's offering fails to distinguish between road types. In Google Maps, you enjoy blue motorways, green major routes, orange A roads, and yellow B roads; in Apple's world, major routes are orange and everything else is white. For visual route planning and at-a-glance sanity checks regarding your current location, this can be a blow.
The Maps app also doesn't have Street View, but the iPhone 4S/iPhone 5 and recent iPads get Flyover View's 3D models of cities. When they're available they're often superb, but they're not widely available yet: for example, London's there, but most other major UK cities aren't.
Also, although Apple makes a good effort to display cities in 3D, some buildings and monuments occasionally look like they've been left in the sun too long and have melted. From a purely navigational standpoint, they're also less generally useful than Street View.
Another missing aspect is public transport, for which you now need an app - Apple offers no replacement whatsoever.
Where Maps does work nicely is as an affordable alternative to expensive turn-by-turn car navigation apps or hardware. With an iPhone securely mounted on the dashboard, you get a very nice experience, with clear directions and fast rerouting if you miss a turn.
It's not perfect - tiny interface elements mean you'll need to take the phone out of any cradle to adjust anything - but we found the accuracy fine on a number of car journeys. These included ones where we specifically tried to get lost, in areas with many recent road changes, some including obscure Scottish roundabout systems. We also reckon the in-car experience pips that of Google Maps, although Google's app is superior as a navigation aid when on foot.
It's worth noting that Maps isn't a standalone app but an underlying system for iOS, and so it also affects apps such as Find My Friends. However, despite our grumbles about the visual display of the maps, we're not so fussed when we're checking whether someone's on time for a meeting as opposed to travelling to such a meeting ourselves.
It's still in beta, but Siri has been massively improved in iOS 6, especially for UK customers: at last Siri can do local searches, so you're not just limited to a subset of the US version's features.
If you liked Siri but found its limitations infuriating in iOS 5, you'll nonetheless perhaps find yourself increasingly using the feature in iOS 6.
Siri can now give you driving directions, tell you what time films are on and whether they're any good, find your friends, provide football scores and launch apps, and it integrates with services including Wolfram Alpha, Facebook and Twitter.
There's also Eyes Free for integration with in-car audio and voice control systems, something Apple is liaising with car manufacturers about.
Apple is rather keen on Siri, not just for answering questions but also for dictating text. We've found computer dictation patchy over the years, but it's genuinely impressive in iOS 6 - especially on the new iPad, where thankfully you don't need to hold the tablet next to your face for it to hear you.
iOS 6's Phone app has some welcome improvements. Previously, you were restricted to answering or declining the call, sending the device to voicemail. Now, you can swipe upwards when a call comes in, enabling you to set a reminder to call the person back, or to send a text response.
Reminders can be time-based or location-based, so for example you can set a reminder that kicks in when you get home. The pre-defined text messages are pretty basic but they do the job, and it's also possible to send a custom message instead. Depending on your setup and connectivity, the response will be sent via SMS or iMessage.
FaceTime's also been given a boost: you can finally use it over 3G, provided you have the right hardware (iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S) and the right calling plan. For the most part, UK carriers do not differentiate between FaceTime and Facebook, but check your plan carefully before using or relying on the feature.
The Do Not Disturb feature is one of the best additions to iOS 6. The basic idea is providing a block of time during which the device when locked silences all calls and alerts.
Additional options enable you to allow calls from your 'Favorites' in the Contacts app, or some other user-defined group; additionally, you can allow a call through should someone phone more than once.
Bar yet another date-oriented Apple screw-up at the dawn of 2013, where Do Not Disturb refused to disengage automatically for a week, the feature has worked flawlessly during the time we've been running iOS 6.
Our one complaint is that the schedule needs more granular options. Right now, you can merely set a time period during which you don't want to be disturbed, but it would be useful to have the option to set alternative hours for, at the very least, weekends and public holidays.
Aside from the speed boosts you'd expect from a refreshed browser, Safari for iOS 6 brings with it a number of updates, two of which centre around iCloud.
The rather poor and half-hearted Reading List feature, which saves web pages for you to read later, now works offline. This is a major improvement, although because Safari pulls down the entire document, saving it takes longer than sending a web page to the likes of Instapaper or Pocket. However, Reading List content syncing across iCloud now makes it a potential alternative to a bespoke read-it-later app or service.
Another great new feature is iCloud tabs. Once activated, this enables you to see open tabs on other devices using the same iCloud ID, including Macs running the latest version of Safari.
There are also a couple of interface changes: tap-holding the back button now brings up the history list, and the iPhone and iPod touch now have a full-screen mode, although it's only available in landscape orientation.
Mail's updates in iOS 6 are relatively small but are nonetheless very welcome. First and foremost, Apple brings its VIP feature to iOS. This enables you to define certain people you communicate with as VIPs and have their emails arrive in the VIP inbox. Ultimately, it's a pre-defined smart mailbox, but it's handy if you're drowning in email and don't want to miss crucial messages from specific people.
Elsewhere, Apple now enables you to insert photos into emails and has included pull-to-refresh with a cute gloopy refresh icon. Additionally, you can now set signatures on a per-account basis, rather than being forced to use the same one for all of them.
We suspect the strength of the iOS app ecosystem is what propelled the iPhone to become the most popular camera on many photography social networks (including Flickr), but the default Camera app has always been a decent option, especially when it gained an optional grid.
In iOS 6, Apple's added a Panorama mode. You hold your device in portrait orientation and slowly sweep horizontally across the scene you wish to capture (if you're going too quickly for the device, you'll be told to slow down). This being an Apple feature, it doesn't provide you with any further options whatsoever.
Fortunately, the automated panorama stitching the Camera app does is generally excellent, to the point we happily ditched third-party apps of this type from our devices.
Photo Stream was one of those typically Apple technologies: great when it worked, maddeningly frustrating when it didn't, and with almost no options to fine-tune it.
Previously, Photo Stream provided access to your most recent 1,000 photos and/or screen grabs, and that was it. These would be synchronised across devices and computers using the same Apple ID.
With iOS 6, it's now possible to remove images from Photo Stream, and you can now also share custom Photo Streams with other people, or with the public at large via a website on iCloud.com. Any custom Photo Stream can be left as it was when first set up or later updated whenever you like, and those you invite to it can leave comments.
Disappointingly, this is only a shared service in the sense of you sharing your images with others, not you all sharing together. If Apple adds some kind of group Photo Stream, this could be a killer feature; right now, it's certainly a nice-to-have for an ad-hoc share of a few holiday snaps, but hardly something that will worry Flickr or Facebook.
In iOS 6, there are also new apps and a few overhauled ones:
We like the idea behind Passbook. Apple describes it as a place that can house boarding passes, store coupons and loyalty cards, tickets, and more.
It's also location-aware, meaning that if the iPhone knows you're in a store, Passbook should root out the relevant card (assuming Apple Maps doesn't think you're oddly lurking in a fire station, say, rather than your local coffee house).
The big problem, though, is the current poor support for the system. Only a handful of UK apps exist, such as Starbucks, a few airlines and iHotel.
Passbook could be a killer feature, but we wonder whether it'll ultimately become another Ping and be quietly killed.
There's always been a strange disparity between Apple devices when it comes to default apps, with the iPad having fewer of them. Bizarrely, even a calculator and clock weren't included with Apple's tablet, presumably because someone somewhere decided nobody would need to calculate things or set alarms and timers on the larger device.
With iOS 6, Apple includes a clock that makes reasonable use of the extra space available over an iPhone display. You get the usual Timer and Stopwatch tabs, an Alarm tab with a nicely designed grid, and a World Clock tab with a map. The map shows the locations of your defined cities along with current weather conditions. Bar Apple's swiping of the Swiss railway network service's clock design, there's nothing to grumble about here.
All of Apple's stores on iOS have had a major overhaul, which has sped them up and also showcased Apple's obsession with horizontal bands of content that you can swipe.
There are also some usability boosts, such as iTunes enabling you to access recent previews, and you being able to install multiple apps rather than being punted to the home screen after each one. New apps are pleasingly also given a 'New' badge, so you can easily spot them.
But Apple's often the kind of company to punch itself in the head shortly after delivering a knock-out blow, and these store redesigns are no exception. Too often, item names are truncated to the point where you have to tap into each item to differentiate it from another.
Worse, search results now come in the form of cards that make browsing large lists a horrible chore. With these stores, discoverability on iOS has taken a step backwards, particularly for apps and games.
Privacy settings get an overhaul in iOS 6. The Privacy section of Settings gives you a list of items that apps request permission to use: location services, contacts, calendars, and so on. For each, you can revoke access using a slider.
This is also the case with the now fairly deeply integrated social networks, Twitter and Facebook. It's perhaps arguable that the typical user still won't find these options, but Privacy appearing at the top level in Settings and being so straightforwardly designed is a decision that should be applauded.
Also in the realm of permissions and privacy (but also with education ramifications) is Guided Access. Buried in the Accessibility section of General within Settings, the feature when toggled enables you to disable touch, motion and portions of the screen.
A triple-click on the Home button brings up the straightforward interface for defining these features, and Guided Access can also be secured by a four-digit passcode.
Another somewhat privacy-oriented change in iOS 6 is Lost Mode. This is an extension of Find My iPhone, and once triggered via iCloud.com or the Find My iPhone app it locks down a device in a more useful manner than before.
Rather than just playing an alert and sending a message, it enables you to send a phone number that whoever's got your device can use to call you back on. It's only a subtle change, but one that will perhaps increase the likelihood of you getting a lost iPhone back, assuming your message is a touch more polite than "I'm coming for you, thief!"
Elsewhere, Apple's made a number of smaller tweaks that make the system more customisable or usable. In the Music app (which has also had an interface overhaul), you can now delete individual tracks and download single items from iTunes Match.
The Share sheet is now a clear and usable grid of icons, and in Notification Center you can add Share widgets for Twitter and/or Facebook. In Settings, the Bluetooth toggle is now on the top level - we'd like it on a home screen somehow, but this is a start.
And in the General > Cellular section within Settings, you can toggle whether cellular data is used for iCloud documents, iTunes, FaceTime, Passbook updates and Reading List. These might all be small things, but each makes a difference and they combine to improve the OS and justify Apple's belief in iteration rather than regular and unnecessary overhauls.
The big question about any OS upgrade is, will installing it make you glad you did?
The answer for iOS 6 is yes, but some users answer yes more emphatically than others.
The two biggest changes to iOS 6 are Maps and Siri. It's easy to jeer at the former, and Maps certainly has its problems, but it is an excellent choice for in-car turn-by-turn. Siri continues to improve and is now heading towards becoming an essential component of iOS rather than a gimmick.
Do Not Disturb, despite its lack of scheduling granularity, is a triumph. Apple certainly didn't get there first with this feature, but we're sure glad the company got there eventually.
Elsewhere, we liked that Apple's continuing to work with strong foundations and, generally, improving things. Relatively minor updates to Mail, Safari, Camera, Photo Stream, Phone, Share sheets, Find My iPhone and privacy all add up to a big improvement overall.
There's no getting away from iOS 6's differences across devices. In some cases, hardware limitations must be to blame, but some feature cuts appear arbitrary and driven by Apple wanting users to upgrade. For example, the iPhone 4's inability to make FaceTime calls over 3G is baffling, considering it works with Wi-Fi.
Elsewhere, Maps isn't good enough in all use cases, and it really should have been, while Passbook is a nice app that has poor support, and some of Apple's design decisions have been questionable. We can put up with the status bar changing colour, but the awkward search and cropped names in all iOS stores are bad to the point of putting you off searching for and buying things.
We could say the same about iOS 6 as we did about iOS 5: it "has been trailed for so long that the element of surprise went ages ago, but there's enough here to make your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch feel shiny and new all over again."
iOS 6 is rather like the iPhone 5 or OS X Mountain Lion - the refinement of something that already works extremely well. Apple isn't overhauling things for the sake of it but, in the main, making the iOS experience gradually better. That in itself is something other companies would do well to emulate.
WMPoweruser reported Friday that a reader claims to have spent some face time with a Nokia EOS prototype, and was able to provide a fairly detailed description of the device as he/she saw it.
Given a sneak peek at the device, the tipster claims EOS is made of the same polycarbonate, but is "much lighter" and "highly tapered at both ends, giving the impression of a much slimmer device."
The report adds that Nokia's EOS also matches the current Lumia 920 screen size and resolution, with an AMOLED display and familiar speaker grills on the bottom of the handset.
The two smartphones appear to deviate when it comes to camera optics, with an "automatic cover that opens when the camera app is started" and a Xenon flash with what appears to be a focus-assist LED. Megapixel count on the prototype was marked as "XX megapixels," written on the lens housing.
According to the tipster, the EOS will also debut a "Nokia Pro Camera" app with manual focus and an all-new user interface, which will coexist with the company's existing camera app.
A second unnamed source told the publication that Nokia will offer the EOS in only one color and without wireless charging, an option users may be able to add by purchasing an accessory cover instead, much the same as the newly-announced Lumia 925.
Of course, as the model is in prototype form, we could see different features whenever Nokia decides to put the EOS on the market, but these details give us a decent jumping off point.
The TechRadar team is so excited about the new Xbox reveal that none of us have slept all week. Seriously, we should probably seek medical help or something.
And it looks like the next few days will be much the same as Microsoft has just launched a new blog, Xbox Wire, which we'll be refreshing manically for any possible early hints at what's coming on May 21.
A post on the site by Editor Lisa Gurry says "a new generation of games, TV and entertainment" is coming our way, but there's not much else for the time being. Microsoft, you tease.
As Android phones and tablets have increased in popularity, the number of apps available for the platform has rocketed.
And that means more free Android games. There's a lot of junk out there but, fortunately, there are gems among the junk.
We've worked our way through a whole load of Android games to reveal the ones you should download to your phone.
So without delay, here is our pick of the best free Android games available.
We also have a video run down of the top 10:
The amazingly popular iOS game moved to Android a while ago, earning over two million downloads during its first weekend of availability.
The Android version is free, unlike the Apple release, with maker Rovio opting to stick a few adverts on it rather than charge an upfront fee. The result is a massive and very challenging physics puzzler that's incredibly polished and professional. For free. It defies all the laws of modern retail.
Bebbled is your standard gem-shuffling thing, only presented in a professional style you wouldn't be surprised to see running on something featuring a Nintendo badge with an asking price of £19.99.
You only drop gems on other gems to nuke larger groups of the same colour, but with ever-tightening demands for score combos and scenes that require you to rotate your phone to flip the play field on its head, Bebbled soon morphs into an incredibly complex challenge.
There's an awful lot of square-shuffling games on Android and Red Stone is one of the best. And one of the hardest. You start off with a big fat 'King' square that's four times of the normal 'pawn' squares, then set about shuffling things so the fat King can get through to an exit at the top of the screen.
It's hard to accurately describe a puzzle game in the written word, but seriously, it's a good game.
Released in beta form, Newton is a maths/physics challenge that has you lining up shots at a target - but having to contend with the laws of nature, in the form of pushers, pullers, benders (no laughing), mirrors and traps, all deflecting your shot from its target.
The developer is still adding levels to it at the moment, so one day Newton might be finished and might cost money. But for now it's free and a great indie creation.
The Angry physics phenomenon took a turn for the weird late in 2012, with Rovio acquiring the rights to blend Star Wars characters with its popular Angry Birds play mechanics. Angry Birds Star Wars is actually pretty nice, with players using Star Wars weaponry to smash down scenery alongside the usual destructive physics action. Not the car crash IP clash we were expecting.
Some might call Drop a game, others might classify it as a tech demo that illustrates the accuracy of the Android platform's accelerometer, thanks to how playing it simply involves tilting your phone while making a little bouncy ball falls between gaps in the platforms. Either way it'll amuse you for a while and inform you of the accuracy of your accelerometer - a win-win situation.
Another key theme of the independent Android gaming scene is (ports of) clones of popular titles. Like Frozen Bubble, which is based around the ancient and many-times-copied concept of firing gems up a screen to make little groups of similarly coloured clusters. That's what you do. You've probably done it a million times before, so if it's your thing get this downloaded.
Replica Island is an extremely polished platform game that pulls off the shock result of being very playable on an Android trackball. The heavy momentum of the character means you're only switching direction with the ball or d-pad, letting you whizz about the levels with ease. Then there's jumping, bottom-bouncing, collecting and all the other usual platform formalities.
In Gem Miner you are a sort of mole character that likes to dig things out of the ground. But that's not important. The game itself has you micro-managing the raw materials you find, upgrading your digging powers and buying bigger and better tools and maps. Looks great, plays well on Android's limited button array. Go on, suck the very life out of the planet.
Another coloured-square-based puzzle game, only ConnecToo has you joining them up. Link red to red, then blue to blue - then see if you've left a pathway through to link yellow to yellow. You probably haven't, so delete it all and try again.
A brilliantly simple concept. ConnecToo used to be a paid-for game, but was recently switched to an ad-supported model - meaning it now costs you £0.00.
Once you're successfully rewired your brain's 25 years of playing Tetris in a certain way with certain buttons and got used to tapping the screen to rotate your blocks, it's... Tetris.
It hinges on how much you enjoy placing things with your phone's trackball or pad. If you're good at it, it's a superb Tetris clone. Let's hope it doesn't get sued out of existence.
UPDATE: While Titres seems to have been removed from Google Play, there's now an official Tetris app available to download.
Not the best-looking game you'll ever play, with its shabby brown backgrounds and rudimentary text making it look like something you'd find running on a PC in the year 1985. But Trap! is good.
You draw lines to box in moving spheres, gaining points for cordoning off chunks of the screen. That sounds rubbish, so please invest two minutes of your time having a go on it so you don't think we're talking nonsense.
Coloured gems again, and this time your job is to switch pairs to make larger groups which then disappear. That might also sound quite familiar. The good thing about Jewels is its size and presentation, managing to look professional while packing in more levels than should really be given away for free.
We had to put one Sudoku game in here, so we'll go with OpenSudoku - which lives up to its open tag thanks to letting users install packs of new puzzles generated by Sudoku makers. It's entirely possible you could use this to play new Sudoku puzzles for the rest of your life, if that's not too terrifying a thought.
Abduction! is a sweet little platform jumping game, presented in a similarly quirky and hand-drawn style as the super-fashionable Doodle Jump. You can't argue with cute cows and penguins with parachutes, or a game that's easy to play with one hand thanks to its super accessible accelerometer controls.
A cross between a map tool and Foursquare, The Great Land Grab sorts your local area into small rectangular packets of land - which you take ownership of by travelling through them in real-time and buying them up.
Then someone else nicks them off you the next day, a bit like real-world Risk. A great idea, as long as you don't mind nuking your battery by leaving your phone sitting there on the train with its GPS radio on.
Our basic legal training tells us it's better to use the word "homage" than to label something a "rip-off", so we'll recommend this as a simple "homage" to the famed Nintendo Brain Training franchise.
Clearly Brain Genius Deluxe is not going to be as slick, but there's enough content in here to keep you "brain training" (yes, it even uses that phrase) until your battery dies. The presentation's painfully slow, but then again that might be the game teaching you patience.
Coloroid is aery, very simple and has the look of the aftermath of an explosion in a Tetris factory, but it works. All you do is expand coloured areas, trying to fill them in with colours in as few moves as possible - like using Photoshop's fill tool at a competitive level.
Cestos is sort of a futuristic recreation of curling, where players chuck marbles at each other to try and smash everyone else's balls/gems down the drain and out of the zone. The best part is this all happens online against real humans, so as long as there's a few other bored people out there at the same time you'll have a real, devious, cheating, quitting person to play against. Great.
One of the other common themes on the Android gaming scene is clones of games based around pretending to be an air traffic controller, where you guide planes to landing strips with a swish of your finger. There are loads of them, all pretty much the same thing - we've chosen Air Control as it's an ad-supported release, so is technically free.
GalaxIR is a futuristic strategy game with an abstract look, where players micro-manage an attacking alien fleet. Pick a planet, pick an attack point, then hope your troops have the balls to carry it off. There's not much structure to the game as yet, but that's what you get when you're on the bleeding-edge of free, independent Android gaming development.
Graviturn is an accelerometer based maze game, where the aim is to roll a red ball out of a maze by tilting your phone around. Seems embarrassingly easy at first, until increasing numbers of green balls appear on screen. If any green balls roll off the screen you die and have to try again. It's abstract. It's good.
There are a few variants on Alchemy out there, each offering a similarly weird experience. In Alchemy Classic you match up elements to create their (vaguely) scientific offspring, so dumping water onto earth makes a swamp, and so on. It's a brain teaser thing and best played by those who enjoy spending many hours in the company of the process of elimination.
In ActionPotato you control three pots. Pressing on the pots makes them jump up into the air, where they harvest potatoes. See how many you can get in a row. That's the gist of it. And don't collect the rotten potatoes, else you die. That really is it. The Google Play stats say this is on well over 1,000,000 downloads, so it's doing something right.
Scrambled Net is based around the age-old concept of lining up pipes and tubes, but has been jazzed up with images of computer terminals, high score tracking and animations. Still looks like something you'd have played on a Nokia during the last decade, but it's free - and looking rubbish hardly stopped Snake from taking off, did it?
Dropwords is laid out like your standard Android block-based puzzle game, the difference here is we're not dealing with gems - you make blocks disappear by spelling out words from the jumbled heap of letters. There's not an enormous amount of point to it, but you can at least submit your scores and best words to the server, where an AI version of Susie Dent will pass her approval.
What you do in Barrr is man-manage a bar world, pointing men at the beers, games or tattoo parlour, then taking their money off them once they're drunk and happy like a good capitalist. And make sure they go to the toilet. Things, as things do in games, soon start speeding up and it gets rather insane and difficult.
The name gives it away - this is a Tetris clone. Or rather it's a game that uses the same sort of block-shifting rules as Tetris, only with a very nice and user friendly touchscreen area beneath the block pit to make it easy to play. We're having trouble locating this on Google Play at time of writing - either a glitch or the inevitable legal troubles.
UPDATE: Tetronimo seems to have been removed from Google Play, but there's now an official Tetris app available to download.
Wordfeud is a superb little clone of Scrabble, with a big, clear screen and online play options that actually work. The game's been offered for free with some hefty advertising over it thanks to the developer being based in Norway - which only received paid-for app sales support recently. A paid version may arrive soon, but Wordfeud remains free right now.
Friction Mobile is a very odd concept that makes no sense in still images. You fire a ball into the screen, then try to hit that ball with other balls until it explodes. The catch is you're not allowed to bounce balls backwards into your own face. Because then you die. Sounds rubbish, but works well. It's free, so give it a no-obligation, no-commitment whirl.
Geared is a weird little thing finally converted over to Android from iPhone. It's an embarrassingly simple concept - players slot different sized cogs into place on the screen, with the aim being to power one gear from another. Then, as is video game tradition, it gets harder and harder. Plus there are 150 levels of it all.
A stunning little retro game, Meganoid plays and looks like something that ought to be running on a Nintendo emulator. But it isn't. It's new and on Android. It's a speed-based challenge, using on-screen or accelerometer controls to jump and bounce through ever-hardening levels. Developer Orange Pixel is aggressively supporting it, too, with constant map packs, characters and more regularly appearing for download.
A standard and traditional platform game. Cordy is a speed-based affair, with players running, jumping and collecting their way through its pretty green levels, using an electrical cable to jump, swing over obstacles and grab energy. Uses on-screen buttons so can be a bit tough to play, but comes with 12 free levels to get you going.
Yet more Angry Birds for fans of the simplistic trial and error physics game. Angry Birds Rio is another chapter-based effort as well, with developer Rovio leaving tempting empty slots on the menu screen for periodic updates of new levels. More of the same, but with a prettier, 3D look to it this time thanks to a vague association with animated movie Rio.
As with Angry Birds, the maker of this superb tower defence game has spun out a separate version it fills with seasonal levels. Recently updated with an Easter map, this free version of the game also includes Valentine, Christmas and St Patrick's Day themed maps. Currently calls itself Grave Defense Easter. Easily one of the best examples of the tactical genre.
The popular iPhone Scrabble-alike is now on Android, with an ad-supported version up on Google Play for free. Words with Friends Free should actually be called Words for People Without Any Friends, as once installed it lets users play with complete strangers online - or pick specific people from your contacts list. It's turn-based, so several ongoing games can be strung out for days.
Very similar in style and concept to Xbox and Xbox 360 retro classic Geometry Wars. In fact, one might legally be able to get away with calling it a right old rip-off. Android PewPew is a rock-hard 2D shooting game packed with alternate game modes. It's a bit rough around the edges and requires a powerful phone to run smoothly, but when it does it's a fantastic thing.
A nice looking little aquarium, that combines the timeless hobby of staring at goldfish with game elements based around breeding new varieties. There's a slight sting in the tail here in that Tap Fish is one of the initial wave of "freemium" Android games brought into life thanks to Google's launch of in-app billing. The really cool new stuff costs little bits of money.
A standard rhythm action, button pressing music game for Android. Beats manages to outdo the official music games by including a Download Song tab, where it's possible to install new song files created by users. It's very hard and very fast. Just like they should be. Runs perfectly on an HTC Desire, too, so there's no blaming glitches for not doing very well.
Pinball Deluxe is an actually decent pinball sim for Android, and it's free. At the moment it comes with four tables - Wild West, Carnival, Space Frontier and Diving for Treasure. Ball movement is convincing, and although a bit of the magic is lost thanks to having to use on-screen buttons, it's a smooth enough experience. It's ad-supported. Don't press those. You don't get a bonus.
Winter Walk is madness. You play the part of a gentleman, out for an evening walk. From time to time the wind picks up, so you have to hold on to his hat to stop it blowing away.
While this is happening, the chap's internal monologue appears on screen, giving you an entertaining and distracting read in the process, too. Very simple, but a perfect little high score challenge game for the touchscreen era.
Publisher Gamevil takes a break from churning out the role-playing games to give dumb action a go here. Colosseum Heroes is a 2D slasher, where you simply try to survive for as long as possible, building up your armour and weaponry to make yourself tougher and meaner.
Technically this is a "freemium" game paid for with in-app purchases, but if you're prepared to spend a while building up your character's skills manually, there's no need to pay out.
Developer Orange Pixel has a knack of creating excellent retro titles, with Stardash a fine example.
Designed to look like a Game Boy game from before many of you younger readers were born, Stardash is clearly a bit of a Mario homage - but it's done exceptionally well and is endlessly replayable. If you like it, and you probably will, there's an alternate paid version that removes the adverts.
Zynga's latest puzzler Scramble With Friends Free is technically a free game, but in order to get the most out of it and play as it's meant to be played you'll need to use the in-app purchasing system to buy "tokens" to let you access games quicker. Which leaves a slightly bad T-A-S-T-E in the M-O-U-T-H, but at least it's free and perfectly playable at a slow pace if you're just curious.
Dead on Arrival is a very impressive looking 3D survival horror game, which dumps you in a hospital infested with zombies. You then try to not get eaten by buying new weapons, boarding up doors to keep the brain-eaters at bay and using wall-mounted weaponry to quicken the zombie mincing process. As with many of today's Android titles, there's the option to pay for stuff within the game to unlock features and remove ads - but you don't have to.
Stick Cricket is a fantastically simple little game that reduces cricket to its core values - you just smash every ball as hard as you can. There's no worrying about field positioning, just a bat and a ball coming at you very quickly. Initially it seems impossible to do anything other than make a complete mess of things and having your little man smashed upside-down, but it soon clicks.
Draw Something Free is the new phenomenon that's taking the world by storm (at the time of writing, at least). It's basically a mobile version of Pictionary, where you're given a choice of three words of varying difficulty, then tasked with drawing them so someone can tell what it is. Syncs with Facebook, too, for easy cross-platform play. If you like the free trial, there's a paid accompaniment with more content.
The popular web-based Flash game Fragger is now on Android. It's pretty much a clone of Angry Birds, mind, offering simple physics-based challenges based around chucking grenades all over the place to make stuff blow up. It comes with some rather intrusive ads, but that's the price you (don't) pay for sticking with the free version.
Global mega-corporation EA has gone literally mad, giving away its Android version of The Sims for nothing in the form of The Sims FreePlay. In return for sitting through some full-screen adverts every now and again, players get a decent mobile version of The Sims, complete with pets, plants, lifestyle points and all the usual mundane activities that make the series popular. It's not perfect, but does fit in most Sims core features.
About as far away from The Sims as you can get. Super Bit Dash is a retro-style 2D platform game, with controls as simple as its pixel art design. The game runs at a constant pace, so all the player has to do is jump and super-special-jump at the right time in order to avoid smashing into the scenery. Obviously it's a lot harder than that makes it sound.
Chrono&Cash Free is very hard and sweet little one-screen platform game, where players jump about collecting bags of cash while avoiding enemies. And that's all there is to it, aside from some mini challenges to boost your score multiplier and online sharing of your scores to goad friends into trying to beat you. Looks cool, is a tiny download and a great laugh to play.
A weird little gem, Autumn Walk sees players controlling a man and his dog as they stroll through a Victorian park landscape. The challenge here is dog management, with the hound either running ahead or hanging back - both precarious scenarios that could cause the lead to snap. It's basically a high score challenge, to see how long you can stand the weird experience. Worth it for the awesome comic dialogue that accompanies your stroll.
Meganoid 2 is an insanely difficult 2D scrolling platform game, once again presented in developer Orange Pixel's awesome pixel art style. The levels are rather short, with the challenge here being to simply play them again and again and again so you can get through them without death. Might drive you mad. Might be your favourite game of the year. Close call.
Developer Activision has updated one of its oldest and most fondly remembered classics, turning the ancient platform game into a posh, 3D infinite running thing. Pitfall uses swipe and tilt controls like the famous Temple Run, including power-ups, vehicles and changing camera angles to add a bit of variety to the look and feel of it all.
A shock move from developer Rovio, in that this one isn't a simple take on the Angry Birds style. Bad Piggies is a clever building game, which dumps you at the beginning of a big map with a pile of component parts. You then build a flying machine using the given elements, then try to fly it to the end of the level. A really nice, original little idea from the physics game specialists.
Pocket Planes puts you in charge of an airline. You potter about the world looking for paying jobs, whether that's passenger or freight routes, then send off your planes to do the little delivery tasks. As things progress the complexity increases, until you're eventually flying customised jumbos with hundreds of passengers around major international cities.
It works in real time in the background, so you can minimise it and do other things while all your birds are finding their way home, then pop back in when the game notifies you that something's arrived and needs attention.
Neon Blitz is a kind of a posh tracing game, where you use your finger to draw over the shapes on the screen. You're rated on accuracy, with scores compared against the world on its global leader board. There are power-ups and stuff like that, but it's all about having a jazzy, bright experience, that works perfectly on a touchscreen.
Agent Dash is another take on the infinite runner genre that's come to dominate the smartphone gaming landscape, only with a comedy spy angle. As well as swiping to dodge objects, Agent Dash incorporates weaponry and spy gadgets, making it more of an interactive and action-based experience than most of its "Step Right" peers.
Whale Trail Frenzy is an updated version of the iOS original, with the developer heaping in more levels for the Android release of its bonkers flying game. You just fly a little whale around the sky (for reasons never explained), collecting things, avoiding bad clouds, building up a multiplier and generally being wowed by its unique and gorgeous style. A really sweet experience.
Radiant Defense is a fantastic tower defence game, given a dazzling modern look. You do all the usual tower defence stuff like building up your weapon strengths and deciding how best to stop the endless marching enemy, with some "super weapons" to unlock and hundreds upon hundreds of waves to beat. And it all looks astonishingly pretty on a big screened device.
In this age of austerity and scrimping, we've all long since sold our last set of dominoes and melted down our Monopoly counters for scrap.
So where's a frugal gamer to go for fun that won't break the bank? Why, straight to the TechRadar top 10 free Android games of course…
The original Temple Run made staring at a man's bottom on public transport a wholly acceptable pastime, and this sequel augments the endless-running fun with slicker graphics, more power-ups, obstacles and achievements – plus a bigger monkey hot on your heels.
The best cars require in-app purchases, but there's plenty of free fun to be had with this fast and furious racer. Console-quality graphics show off the mean machines (from Audi, BMW, Bentley and others), and gameplay blends strategy as well as speed.
Putting (putt-ing, geddit?) the crazy into crazy golf, these five courses take in dinosaurs, sharks and pirates across 70 holes, with realistic physics to temper the unreal environments. Facebook integration is par for the course, while in-game chat keeps things swinging.
A bit like Never Mind The Buzzcocks' intro round, this is the handy alternative to carrying Phill Jupitus and someone you've never heard of in your pocket. Guess song clips from loads of genres, then challenge your friends to do better.
That this zombie shooter is set in the dystopian future of 2012 is testament to its lasting appeal. Frantic first-person missions set in realistic 3D environments are sure to get your heart racing (unless you're a zombie), even on smaller screens.
Cute critter Om-Nom is the Daniel Day-Lewis of puzzle games, with a BAFTA amid his haul of gaming awards. The simple premise (cut the ropes to release Om-Nom's lunch) sustains 350 well-pitched levels, packed with character and cartoonish charm.
Scrabble by another name (its second, after "Scrabulous" proved a tad too copyright-infringing), Lexulous has all the social gaming options you'd expect, but beats its many rivals with its antisocial options: three AI opponents ranging from the simple to the sesquipedalian.
Fed up of 3D, HD, 360-degree action? This authentic recreation of an arcade classic is the kind of good, clean pill-munching fun they enjoyed in the 1970s. A tournament mode offers regularly updated mazes, but the retro original is hard to beat.
With the PS4 and new Xbox heading our way, TechRadar asked: what if Microsoft and Sony put their differences aside and teamed up to offer the ultimate console? Then we realised that there's about zero chance of this ever happening - so we designed it ourselves.
We brought together the best of both worlds to form the PlayBox. Blu-Ray? Check. 8GB of RAM? Check. Kinect with two dual 1920x1080 cameras? You betcha.
As for the controller, we think it's the perfect hybrid, offering optimum comfort and functionality. Plus the built-in touchscreen offers a whole raft of new ways to play and navigate the console.
So Microsoft, Sony, if you do happen to see this, you're welcome to try the idea out. We reckon it could be a real game changer.
The iPhone 5 is beginning to look a little long in the tooth against the rest of the best phones around, so it's no wonder we're hearing a lot of information about a successor. In keeping with Apple's naming convention this should end up being called the iPhone 5S.
The early arrival of the iPad 4 and the iPad mini - just eight months after the release of the iPad 3 in March - has meant that Apple still has the ability to surprise and we could well see an iPhone 5S appear during the summer.
Nevertheless - despite reports to the contrary - it's more likely that the iPhone 5S will hit stores in the latter part of 2013, following the trend set by the iPhone 5 and 4S. It's even possible that Apple will skip the iPhone 5S and hop right on to the iPhone 6, though there is little suggestion that this would be the case.
Apple's past 'S' models have featured the same shell as the core model, though with different features and slightly different tech specs. Once again, it seems that will be the case for the 5S.
The iPhone 5S isn't expected to differentiate itself from the iPhone 5 too drastically, though a better camera and slightly faster processor will surely be part of the package.
One analyst has claimed Apple could use the iPhone 5S to increase its margin for iPhones as a result of falling profitability.
Apple will no doubt be feeling the pressure to get its next phone out on the market as soon as possible. Interestingly, it's likely that initial designs of the iPhone 5S will have begun under the watchful eye of Steve Jobs. But is it really as important a product as some suggest?
Any new phone from Apple will almost certainly be the 5S rather than an iPhone 6. Many analysts believe we won't see an iPhone 6 or cheap iPhone until 2014 (although, of course, not everybody agrees with this!). The iPhone 5S release date could be as early as June. However, we believe it's still likely that we'll see another iPhone later in 2013, probably around the September/October timeframe. That will pit it up against rival Samsung, who will surely introduce the third generation of the Samsung Note, the Samsung Note 3, at IFA 2013.
But that's not what everybody thinks: many sources claim that full commercial production of the rumored iPhone 5S has begun already. That's borne out by further rumors suggesting that manufacturing begain in March, followed by a late-year release.
A discount on the iPhone 5 by Verizon also added fuel to the 5S rumours on May 7.
iMore rumours in early March pointed to the 5S being out in August 2013, something Digitimes then agreed with in late March 2013. It then came up with the startling revelation that the new handset would appear in Q3 2013 (probably September).
As our own Kate Solomon puts it, "in other news, night to follow day, Tuesday to follow Monday and bears to continue using largely wooded areas to take care of business".
Citing an "inside source from Apple", Gizmorati claimed on 19 March that an event, called 'Original Passion, New Ideas', will see the launch not just of the new iPad but also of the iPhone 5S. We're not so sure, considering 29 June - when the event is supposed to be - is a Saturday. A leaked document also from Japanese carrier KDDI suggests that July 20 could be the launch date. A WWDC reveal could happen. though it's unlikely.
The International Business Times also said in March that production had been delayed to make up ground on the progress made by other handset manufacturers. That wouldn't be at all surprising considering how far behind its rivals the iPhone 5 has fallen - in terms of raw specification, at least. Reports in April also suggested that Foxconn has added as many as 10,000 assembly line workers per week to its Zhengzhou plant as it readies the new iPhone.
We're expecting a September or October release date for the accompanying iOS 7 in line with previous releases. We'll almost certainly see a reveal at WWDC in early June. Apple has promised to give devs "an in-depth look at what's next in iOS and OS X".
iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 will include a Super HD screen display and camera according to new reports in December 2012. The China Times says a 'Touch On Display' panel is being developed by Taiwanese supplier Innolux with 10 point multi-touch and a 0.5mm thickness. Apparently the site spoke to sources inside Apple's supply chain.
It's been reported that the handset would have a Retina+ Sharp IGZO display, which would have a 1080p Full HD resolution. It's also been widely reported that Apple could introduce two handset sizes as it seeks to compete with the plethora of Android devices now on the market.
According to further rumours, the iPhone 5S might not be the only Apple handset we see this year - rumours abound about cheaper, plastic iPhones, while Apple could be readying an even bigger smartphone to launch in June, apparently called the iPhone Math. Some analysts believe that the new iPhone will come in multiple sizes, though we're not so sure.
It seems highly possible that different iPhone 5S colours will be announced - not least because of this shot from BGR that shows different coloured SIM trays.
Reports suggest that a cheap iPhone 5S would mean Apple diversifying manufacturers from Foxconn, perhaps leading it to turn to Pegatron. An analyst estimates Pegatron could be responsible for 75 percent of low-cost iPhones.
According to the hit-and-miss China Times wesbite the iPhone Math will carry a sizable 4.8-inch display and an 8MP camera.
The new, larger, lower-cost handset could be aimed at emerging markets such as China.
However, it remains likely that the iPhone 5S will simply use the iPhone 5 shell given Apple's penchant for doing this with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S. But the 5S will have "more than two colour options" according to Macotakara via MacRumors.
In January 2013 iLounge received information that indicated the handset would sport the same design as the iPhone 5 with the key difference being a beefier camera and larger flash on the back.
That's hardly ground breaking from Apple, with the touted 13MP camera on the 5S hardly bucking the trend considering the Sony Xperia Z already has this and we'd expect the Samsung Galaxy S4 to offer up something similar.
New rumours from January 2013 pointed towards the iPhone 5S having a 13MP camera as well.
It was reported on 6 December that images of a purported next-generation iPhone have surfaced on French website Nowhereelse.fr, revealing an exterior virtually identical to the current iPhone 5 but with slightly different internals.
More parts appeared in photos shown by BGR towards the end of January 2013.
Rumours have abounded for years that the iPhone will incorporate NFC at some stage, but this has proved unfounded. Indeed, Apple decided to incorporate Passbook into the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 as a way to provide a similar, if different, feature.
Now, according to the often-wrong China Times, Apple is rumoured to be equipping the 5S with NFC in addition to a fingerprint scanner for added security. We're really not sure about this one, though rumours of fingerprint scanners and NFC support in Apple's devices trace back to last July when Apple bought mobile security firm AuthenTec for $356 million (UK£238 million, UA$346 million).
PayPal's chief information security officer, Michael Barrett, may have further dropped a bit hint during a recent keynote speech. "There is going to be a fingerprint enabled phone on the market later this year," he said. "Not just one, multiple."
Could this be in the new iPhone?
According to CP Tech, Apple filed a patent application last month for Wireless Power Utilization, a wireless charging system with near-field magnetic resonance (NFMR). That means we'll get wireless charging at last.
Needless to say, TechRadar will be keeping a close eye on all the iPhone 5S rumors and will bring you the latest developments as they emerge - on this very page.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes the 5S will also have a feature originally destined for iPhone 6: a fingerprint reader.
In 1973, there was a whole episode of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads dedicated to not finding out the football score before seeing the TV highlights.
These days there really is no hiding place from a big result, but there's also no need to wait for the TV highlights either, with an ever increasing range of apps offering live coverage of all your favourite sports.
If you don't want to know who tops our leaderboard, we suggest you look away now...
We'll be updating this list in the near future - do you think Sky Sports Score Centre should have made the cut? Is the BBC app to dull? Let us know in the comments below...
Home of British sport since pre-digital days, the Beeb has come up with an app worthy to succeed Final Score. With live football results and top news from all major sports, it's just a shame it doesn't make the teleprinter noise.
ESPN offers a range of free sports apps, but its Premier League one is the, er, premier league one. As well as live scores and stats, it offers near-live video clips of every goal, plus highlights packages at half-time and full-time.
If you're after an all-in-one soccer app, this one boasts more balls than most, with coverage of the Premier League, Championship, Leagues One and Two, Conference, Scottish Premier League, Champions League, Bundesliga, Serie A, Serie B, Mexican League and more!
Despite a default focus on football, personalisation lets you create quick links to your favourite sports including athletics, boxing, cycling and skiing. Live scoring and results for every major event are augmented by new stories, videos and exclusive web chats.
This official freebie is probably the best golf app out there right now, with real-time scorecards, play-by-play updates and custom leaderboards from every PGA tournament. Up-to-the-minute coverage includes player profiles and full schedules, plus video highlights including shot of the day.
Get Flintoff-fast scores, push notifications and ball-by-ball commentary with this free app incarnation of the popular cricket website. Stats fans will love the points tables and comprehensive player and team rankings, while incisive news and editorials add some in-depth analysis.
This all-in-one app promises live scoring for all Tier One rugby around the world, including the Six Nations. Video highlights and live chat are great if you can't be there; ticketing news and stadium maps are great if you can.
Give your handset some added horsepower with the latest racecards and results from around the UK. The free app also includes news and blogs, while a monthly sub adds live video from Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom, Newbury, Goodwood, Newmarket and more.
This official app comes with a hefty price tag (£19.99 at time of writing), but with live timing, track positioning and interactive 3D maps for every race of the 2013 F1 season, it really does put you in the driving seat.
Fans of US sports (and initials) can get super-fast scores for NBA basketball, NFL and AFL football, NHL ice hockey and MLB (major league baseball) with this one handy app that also covers an insane amount of soccerball and a whole lot more.
US-based payments software company Intuit is launching its mobile payments service for small businesses in the UK.
Intuit Pay, which was announced in November, lets businesses take payments face-to-face and over the phone using its keypad-equipped Chip & PIN card reader, which connects to a smartphone using Bluetooth.
After purchasing the reader for £49 plus VAT, businesses can download the Intuit Pay app on an iOS or Android mobile device to immediately begin taking payments. The app also features integration with Intuit's own accounting software, Quickbooks.
There are no monthly feeds to use the service, but Intuit charges businsess 2.75% per transaction.
PayPal's own card reader, PayPal Here, is yet to launch in the UK, as is the European version of Square, an equivalent device first launched in the US by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey in 2009.
If it's worth playing, it's worth paying. At least, that's the credo of our top 10 premium Android games, each chosen to make sure your hard-earned pennies wouldn't be put to better use in an impromptu game of tiddlywinks.
We reckon you'll get your money's worth with this lot – or at least sufficient distraction to forget you were meant to be saving for that vital operation.
We'll be updating this list as time goes on - feel free to suggest other games you think should be here in the comments below.
Run! Run like you're in Temple Run, but sideways and blocky and with cats! That pretty much sums up this fun side-scroller that proves a combination of flames and kittens can be fun and not a job for the RSPCA.
While many driving games unleash your inner 007, only this one caters to your inner McFly, with car choices including an Aston Martin and a DeLorean. Real-world race locations include central London – making an ideal foil for commuter rage.
If ripping up streets by car isn't your idea of fun, try laying down train tracks with this engrossing puzzler. Getting the engines to the right stations is harder than it looks, so be careful not to miss your real-world stop!
They Need To Be Fed was a huge hit with its 360-degree gravity-based gameplay, and this sequel only adds to the formula. Simply dodge the dangers, feed the monsters and try not to get dizzy over 50 deceptively easy-looking levels.
A pocket sandbox game sounds like a recipe for severe chafing, but mini Minecraft is no less addictive than the full PC/Xbox version. Use 3D blocks to build freely in Creative mode, or choose Survival mode for more traditional gameplay.
Cutting-edge on its original release in 1991, Another World now mixes retro charm with surprisingly robust aesthetics and gameplay. One of the first games to employ a properly cinematic plot, its sci-fi storyline is bound to inspire the odd flashback.
This mash-up offers hours of fun desecrating a much-loved classic – to say nothing of Star Wars, ha ha etc. Much more than just a Leia of lipstick on a pig, this is a worthy addition to an unstoppable franchise.
Ten years after GTA3 carjacked the world and caused a moral panic among non-gamers, here's hoping that many who were appalled then now have it in their pockets and are happily thieving and killing along with the rest of us.
If Game of Thrones has you hankering for some sword-and-sorcery RPG action, you could do a lot worse than check out this Japanese epic, rich in dwarves, golems and "Evils from the Earth-depths", all waiting to get medieval on yo' app.
Finally, here's another old classic given a new lease of life thanks to Android. Beneath its slick new look, this is still the original, much-loved platformer from the 1990s, but with no need to carry an Amiga 500 with you.
When Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, the reaction was a bit muted: where previous phones were massive leaps forward, the iPhone 5 was a bit longer and a lot easier to scratch.
So what can we expect from the next iPhone, the iPhone 6 or 5S? Let's see what we can glean from the varying sources of the internet - some reliable, some not so much.
The rumour mill doesn't seem too sure whether the next iPhone is going to be the iPhone 5S or the iPhone 6. Given the iPhone's history - from the 3G onwards, there's always been a half-step S model before the next numbered iPhone - we'd bet on an iPhone 5S first and an iPhone 6 a while later.
However, in May 2013 Stuff reported it received a photo of the till system at a Vodafone UK store (which it has since removed along with the reference to Vodafone), with '4G iPhone 6' listed. Interesting.
It's been suggested that there could even be three size variants of the new iPhone - check out these mocked up images by artist Peter Zigich. He calls the handsets iPhone 6 Mini, iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 XL.
Many pundits predict a summer iPhone 6 release date. It's quite likely that Apple is moving to a two-phones-per-year upgrade cycle, but we'd bet on a springtime 5S model and a bigger, iPhone 6, update in the Autumn, probably September.
Digitimes reckons predicts a summertime reveal for Apple's next generation phones, which again fits with a WWDC unveiling. In May it became clear that US carrier Verizon introduced an iPhone 5 price cut of as much as $100 USD.
Reports in April also suggested that Foxconn has added as many as 10,000 assembly line workers per week to its Zhengzhou plant as it readies itself for the iPhone 6 release date.
But Jefferies analyst Peter Misek reckons we'll see an iPhone 5S first, with a June 2014 release for the iPhone 6. Citi's Glen Yeung also believes that we won't see an iPhone 6 or cheap iPhone until 2014.
Multiple rumours say Apple's working on plastic cases for its next iPhone, mixing plastic and metal in such a way that "the internal metal parts [are] able to be seen from outside through special design."
It's unclear whether such cases would be for the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, or if Apple is simply considering making cheaper iPhone 4s to sell when the iPhone 3GS reaches the end of its life.
Speaking in March 2013, a KGI analyst said it believed Apple would turn to manufacturer Pegatron to make up to 75 per cent of low cost iPhone products.
That's what iDownloadblog reckons, quoting Jefferies analyst Peter Misek: it'll have a better battery too, he says. Many Android phones now boast NFC.
PayPal's chief information security officer, Michael Barrett said this during a recent keynote speech: "There is going to be a fingerprint enabled phone on the market later this year," he said. "Not just one, multiple."
See our video below on what Apple needs to do to slay Samsung's Galaxy S4
We're expecting a September or October release date for iOS 7 in line with previous releases. We'll almost certainly see a reveal at WWDC in early June. Apple has promised to give devs "an in-depth look at what's next in iOS and OS X".
9to5Mac spoke with several sources who said the new iOS 7 will be attractive to new iOS users but may alienate older iPhone addicts. Described as "very, very flat" by one source, another said the interface is without gloss and shine and is rather like Microsoft's Metro design language on Windows Phone.
We've already seen a 128GB iPad, so why not a 128GB iPhone 6? Yes, it'll cost a fortune, but high-spending early adopters love this stuff.
According to Business Insider, of the many iPhone 6 prototypes Apple has made, one has a giant Retina+ IGZO display and a "new form factor with no home button. Gesture control is also possibly included" - more on that shortly. Mind you, it was mooted that Apple would dump the home button in time for iPhone 5, but it never happened.
The Retina+ Sharp IGZO display, would have a 1080p Full HD resolution. It's also been widely reported that Apple could introduce two handset sizes as it seeks to compete with the plethora of Android devices now on the market.
Take this one with a pinch of salt, because China Times isn't always right: it reckons the codename iPhone Math, which may be a mistranslation of iPhone+, will have a 4.8-inch display. The same report suggests that Apple will release multiple handsets throughout the year over and above the iPhone 5S and 6, which seems a bit far-fetched to us.
Patents show that Apple has been thinking about magical morphing technology that can hide sensors and even cameras. Will it make it into the iPhone 6? Probably not.
Could the touch screen even be transparent? Emirates 24/7 sin't the first source we'd turn to for bone fide rumours about a new smartphone, but it claims that an ultra-sensitive transparent touchscreen will make it into iPhone 6. The site also believes the display will be made by Sharp, which wouldn't be so surprising. One thing's for sure - a potential wraparound screen is probably a pipedream.
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek also says he believes the new iPhone will have a bigger screen.
Not a huge surprise, this one: the current processor is a dual-core A6, and the next one will be a quad-core A7. The big sell here is more power with better efficiency, which should help battery life.
Expect to see it in the 2013 iPad first, and expect to see an improved A6 processor, the A6X, in the iPhone 5S.
Apple's bought camera sensors from Sony before, and this year we're going to see a new, 13-megapixel sensor that takes up less room without compromising image quality.
An Apple patent, uncovered by Apple Insider in May 2013, shows a system where an iPhone can remotely control other illuminating devices - extra flashes. It would work in a similar manner to that seen in professional photography studios. Interesting stuff.
One thing seems certain - Apple can't ignore the massive movement towards eye-tracking tech from other vendors, especially Samsung. It seems a shoe-in that Apple will deliver some kind of motion tech within the next iPhone, probably from uMoove.
On its UK launch, just one UK network had 4G LTE: Everything Everywhere, which currently offers 4G on the 1800MHz band. In 2013, all the other big names will be coming on board, offering 4G in other frequency bands. International iPhones already work across different 4G bands to the UK, so you can expect the UK iPhone 6 (and possibly the iPhone 5S) to be more promiscuous than the iPhone 5.
By the time the iPhone 6 emerges, iOS devices should also have "nonclassified communication approval" status from the US FCC, which means they won't need to go through a lengthy approval process.
Apple likes to lead Wi-Fi standards adoption - its Airport really helped make Wi-Fi mainstream - and there's a good chance we'll see ultra-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi in Apple kit this year. It's faster than Lighting, and not very frightening.
Wireless charging still isn't mainstream. Could Apple help give it a push? CP Tech reports that Apple has filed a patent for efficient wireless charging, but then again Apple has filed patents for pretty much anything imaginable.
The tasty bit of this particular patent is that Apple's tech wouldn't just charge one device, but multiple ones.
Nvidia's Shield has just been given an official pre-order date ahead of a June release, and we're really interested to see how the gaming market reacts to its arrival. As for Nvidia, it seems pretty confident that the growing power of Android's growing ecosystem will propel the handheld into the big time.
"The momentum is now on Google's side," Igor Stanek, head of Nvidia EMEA Tegra PR, told TechRadar in a discussion about where Mountain View stands right now on gaming in relation to competitors like Apple.
Talking about iOS's graphical power, he said, "They are still ok but you see that Tegra 4 is already faster, then we get the next-gen chip and the next-gen chip. Look at how fast Android devices are improving."
But it's more than just the power that will be key for Shield, according to Stanek. "It's not just the device itself but the ecosystem in which it exists," he said.
"Shield is different [from 3DS, PS Vita] - it's a part of an ecosystem, it's part of the Android ecosystem."
As for what the PS4 and new Xbox will offer gamers, Stanek didn't seem too worried. "I don't see consoles as a big issues for us," he said. "This is just my opinion, but I think this generation of consoles could be the last one."
Google's devices have traditionally been behind iOS when it comes to getting apps and games, but the trend is shifting and Nvidia recognises the significance in this.
"The majority of games are now released at the same time for iOS and Android or with very little delay," said Stanek. "The install base on Android is so huge it wouldn't be clever from the developer's side to not support it."
As for those hoping for word of a UK release, there's nothing new to add, said Stanek. "Our plan is to see how it's going [in the US and Canada] and then we can expand to other regions."
Whether this refers to actual sales or critical reception, Stanek couldn't say, but we hope Nvidia will be able to tell us more very soon.
Listen up, nerds. You want to access the system management controller (SMC) chip on a Mac, you've gotta have got at least an E in your OWLS at Hogwarts.
SpecialisRevelio are the magic words that Apple's engineers decided would get you into the SMC's undocumented code - in the Harry Potter books, it's a charm used by wizards and witches in the know to reveal any sneaky hexes or charms on an object.
Its proper name is Scarpin's Revelaspell and it's pretty advanced stuff, Hermione Granger-grade witching.
Apache OpenOffice 3.4 has passed the 50 million download mark, just a few days after the first anniversary of May 8 release.
A blog from the Apache Sofware Foundation, the non-profit corporation that manages development of the office productivity software, points to two main peaks for downloads.
The first came in June 2012 when upgrade notifications for users of the earlier OpenOffice.org suite were enabled. The second came in September when OpenOffice 3.4.1, which included extra support languages, was released.
However, downloads have remained high, at about 150,000 per day, since early January, indicating that there is a slow burn take-up of the software among users looking for a cost-free option.
The blog also shows that more than 80% of downloads were made to machines running on Windows operating systems, suggesting a significant number of users looking for alternatives to Microsoft Office. Much smaller numbers were downloaded to machines running Linux or Apple Macs.
The Foundation currently has the successor, Apache OpenOffice 4.0, in testing.