ExpressVPN, which we rate as the best VPN, has released the latest version of its Mac VPN client. ExpressVPN for Mac is now designed to work natively on newer devices with M1 or M2 chips. According to ExpressVPN, the app “works even more seamlessly on the newest Mac computer model, allowing users to enjoy a performance boost along with lower battery consumption.”
ExpressVPN for Mac now uses a universal binary code, so even older Macs can use the app with any issues. However, because the M-series chips are so new, many Mac apps aren’t designed to directly run on these modern processors. Instead, unoptimized Mac apps have to be translated by third-party software, known as Rosetta 2, in order to work.
This causes the software to run slower and less efficiently, so having native compatibility is essential for maximizing the potential of Apple's new silicon chips.What are Apple's M1 and M2 chips?
For years, Apple, along with most of the tech world, used Intel CPU chips in its devices. CPUs streamline all the processes within the computer, manage memory, instruct other parts of the device how to do its job, and keeps everything powered up. Essentially, the CPU is the brain of a computer.
Over the last two years, Apple has begun manufacturing its own CPUs knows as M-series chips. The first one, dubbed M1, was released at the end of 2020 and was a little buggy and a bit slower than Intel CPUs. However, it was also a good starting point for Apple to learn more about what was needed in real-life applications. Over the next year Apple released M1 Pro and M1 Max, which improved performance.
The latest chip, M2, was released this last June. So far it has been an impressive upgrade to the M1 chips with faster process times and lower battery usage.
Until now, ExpressVPN hasn’t been fully compatible with M1 and M2 chips. As with most Mac applications, when installed, users would be prompted to also download and set up Rosetta 2. ExpressVPN’s latest release means Mac users have full access to its features and functions without the need for extra steps.Other VPNs optimised for M1 and M2
ExpressVPN is one of the most widely known VPN providers in the world. It has an huge user base and has been providing privacy protection since 2009. However, it isn’t the first to offer an M-series native VPN.
NordVPN first released its native M1 version in August 2021, a full year ahead of ExpressVPN. Another company to swiftly offer a native M1 VPN was Surfshark, which released its updated app in May 2021. As with ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Surfshark used a universal code to ensure easy updates and quick compatibility for other M-series chips.
Remarkably, the earliest M1-native VPN client to be released was from VyprVPN. This app was released in March 2021 and is also now compatible with other Apple M chips.
FedEx set to increase usage of automation in major deal with Northeastern tech business Berkshire Grey
A new version of Winamp has arrived, with an initial RC1 (Release Candidate 1) installer for the classic media player now available to download.
You may (or may not) fondly remember Winamp, but it certainly represents a major nostalgia trip for many folks who used the media player to listen to their MP3 tunes many years ago (the app was actually first released in 1997), complete with fancy visualizations, interface skins and the like.
And now, a revamped version has arrived in the form of Winamp 5.9 RC1 Build 9999, which follows a version 5.8 release that happened back in 2018.
As spotted by Ghacks (via Bleeping Computer), the release notes tell us that: “This is the culmination of 4 years’ work since the 5.8 release. Two dev teams, and a pandemic-induced hiatus period inbetween.
“To the end-user, it might not seem like there’s a whole heap of changes, but the largest and hardest part was actually migrating the entire project from VS2008 to VS2019 and getting it all to build successfully.”
Apparently, with this RC1 app, the ‘groundwork’ is all laid, and the developer says that it’ll now concentrate on adding more features. One major benefit delivered here, though, is better compatibility with Windows 11, which will doubtless be music to the ears of those who’ve made the jump from Windows 10.Analysis: Temper your expectations at this point
While this is a whole new version, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of work to be done on Winamp – not just in terms of bolting on features, but ironing out problems. The release notes also state that while “extensive internal testing has already been carried out”, there’s still more to be done on that front, and in fact “all features need testing” (on a wider basis).
This is why the current incarnation is a Release Candidate, which basically means that it’s a functional preview version of the final product, but that it’ll still have plenty of glitches to be resolved. So bear that very much in mind if you want to get on-board with Winamp at this point – it’s still some way from the final release version (that’ll be coming eventually, of course, although there may be a second RC2 pushed out before then).
Naturally, there are a bunch of known bugs flagged by the developer, and Ghacks points to issues with the Winamp installer being labeled a threat by a few antivirus apps (including Bitdefender, according to user reports); but these are false positives we’re assured by the dev.
For now, then, this seems to be a basic working release as noted, with some important improvements – like better compatibility with Windows 11, as mentioned, and some work on playback support – and the meat of the features which are set to differentiate this new remastered app from the old Winamp are still to come.
Previously, we’ve been promised that Winamp will be a platform that gives fans and artists the opportunity to connect – a somewhat vague assertion, let’s face it. Of course, the new incarnation of the program must do something different, and it’ll presumably be aiming to tie up with streaming music services in some manner, to boot. These are very different times to 25 years ago, and the world of MP3s, of course.
What makes us nervous is that it’s still far from clear exactly what Winamp will do differently, and we won’t be getting all that excited – beyond a spark of simple nostalgia – until we actually see these new features rolling out, and what they’ll deliver for modern music lovers.
Time will tell, as always, and we suspect there’s a good chance there’ll be a fair old wait before more happens in terms of revealing the new angle for Winamp. And by all accounts, there’s reportedly a lot of bug fixing and polishing to do yet, even before then.
Making sure you're fully engaged with your Microsoft Teams call is set to get a lot simpler thanks to a new feature coming to the platform.
The company is rolling out an update to its video conferencing service that will make it easier than ever to control aspects of calls using a Bluetooth device.
The upgrade means users can now use a Bluetooth headset or speakerphone to answer or end a Microsoft Teams call, without scrambling for the "end call" button that can often result in awkward pauses.Microsoft Teams Bluetooth headsets
The update means Microsoft Teams users can now use the buttons on a connected Bluetooth device to control their call, with functions such as answering, ending, or putting the call on hold among the initial rollout.
These devices won't even require a USB dongle when connected to a Windows PC running Teams desktop client, and Microsoft says that for many headsets and speakerphones, this will work without requiring any user action to enable other than pairing the device with the PC.
It seems that only certain devices will be able to use the feature to begin with, with Microsoft noting that users should stay tuned to its certification page for additional information about devices tested to meet all certification criteria with native Bluetooth connections soon.
The official Microsoft 365 roadmap notes that the feature is rolling out now to Microsoft Teams users across the world. But for now, it is limited to desktop users only, with no news of a mobile launch just yet.Read more
The update comes as the company looks to make sure Microsoft Teams remains smarter and more interactive for users around the world.
This includes the addition of several generations of avatars to represent you on a call using Microsoft Teams Together Mode, which displays a live avatar for each participant.
The company has also outlined plans to introduce 3D avatars soon alongside more immersive Microsoft Teams meetings within the so-called "metaverse" later in 2022.
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Customers at DreamHost appear to be losing patience with the hosting firm over a week after it first reported suffering a major outage.
Labelled as a “degraded performance”, the incident is disrupting DreamHost users on its shared web hosting services, with the provider pushing out a fix shortly after the outage was reported on July 24, 2022.
DreamHost has published a status update informing its users that it does not have an ETA on the full restoration of the services, but so far has no further details on what has happened.
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Users outraged by the outage have spent the last nine days expressing their frustration on Twitter, with some claiming that their website has gone down in Google rankings, while others have had their entire websites erased.Read more
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TechRadar Pro has reached out to DreamHost’s internal team for an update but so far has not received a reply.
What DreamHost did send, however, was a generic email to its users stating that its technical operations and data center teams are continuing to work on restoring
the data to its customer’s shared server.
“The restore process is still ongoing and being heavily monitored by our Admins. Content is currently being loaded from one of our backup machines, as a result you may continue to experience degraded performance and intermittent errors as data is being restored,” the email added.
Users on Twitter also complained about the lack of updates from DreamHost, with generic responses issued to those who took to the social media platform for further insight as to when the problem will be fixed.
Some users have also expressed concern over the lack of information around receiving refunds, since DreamHost has no estimated time for the full restoration of its web hosting service.
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Using Microsoft SharePoint to orchestrate your team's work could soon be a lot more pleasant thanks to several upgrades to the software.
The online collaboration and work sharing platform has revealed it is working on a number of new site templates, a move it says should make using team sites clearer and more intuitive.
The new templates include sites for your IT helpdesk, crisis communication team, and new employee onboarding team, covering several key milestones for all businesses.SharePoint site templates
In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap, the change is listed as being in development now. However it has an expected release date of August 2022, meaning that users may get to experience the new site templates relatively soon.
SharePoint web users around the world will be able to enjoy the new templates, but we'll stay tuned for specific release date information.
The update comes as Microsoft looks to ensure all its Office 365 programs are providing the efficiency and productivity boost workers need as many companies embrace hybrid working.
This includes adding improved voice dictation for apps such as Outlook and Word, allowing users to dictate documents, emails and more using their voice.
But the company has also introduced information barriers in Microsoft 365, where organizations can restrict communication and collaboration among specific groups of users for both business and security purposes.Read more
SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams and OneDrive for Business all support the new tool, with admins able to define policies that allow or prevent communications between groups of users. Using information barriers in SharePoint Online and OneDrive can prevent unauthorized collaborations like adding a member to a site, accessing a site or content, sharing a site or content or searching a site.
The updates will hope to make customers appreciate the value of Microsoft's services after the company recently introduced price rises for Office.
The move, which was the first increase since the launch of Office 365, saw prices rise across the board, with consumer and business users both affected.
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RingCentral has gone live with a raft of new features for its cloud phone and collaboration platforms in an effort to help customers drive greater productivity as a period of economic uncertainty looms.
Broadly, the updates are designed to give users a way to automate administrative tasks, reduce the need to juggle multiple apps and help develop custom workflows specific to individual businesses.
The hope is that, by laying the groundwork for productivity gains, RingCentral can effectively create an additional avenue for customers to cut back on costs.New RingCentral features
As inflation skyrockets, the cost of borrowing rises and appetite for spending cools off, many businesses are set to face a period of considerable economic pressure.
In this context, companies will need to ensure they are squeezing out every ounce of productivity, which can prove difficult when employees are juggling tens of different digital tools and services and working from all manner of locations. The latest RingCentral updates are designed to help customers achieve just that.
Perhaps the most significant change is the arrival of new apps and integrations to the RingCentral app, including Google Drive, Google Forms, HubSpot, Zendesk, Trello and more. This will mean users will no longer have to hop between windows to gain access to their cloud storage library, say, or their project management software.
Second, RingCentral has rolled out a number of new capabilities for its cloud phone service that it claims will relieve pressure on IT departments. Upgrades include improvements to self-service onboarding, a simplification of the call forwarding process and the ability to use various analytics tools to draw insights from call behavior data.Read more
Rounding out the bundle of updates are new features geared specifically towards helping sales teams streamline their workflows. For example, sales personnel will now benefit from new-look Salesforce and HubSpot integrations that allow them to speak with colleagues before transferring a call and access voicemail facilities with greater ease.
“Core to successfully enabling hybrid work is providing your people with the right communications and collaboration tools when and where they need them,” said Kira Makagon, Chief Innovation Officer at RingCentral.
“At RingCentral, we’re focused on delivering the best-connected experiences across the varying working styles, locations, and technologies to reduce operational inefficiencies and enable people to effortlessly connect with customers, teams, and everyone in between.”
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The Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro will almost certainly be the first phones to ship with Android 13 on board, but some older phones might actually get updated to Android 13 before these handsets launch, as we’re likely to see the next Pixel models in October, while Android 13 now looks almost certain to arrive in September.
Given that Google releases security patches every month, that suggests Android 13 will launch in September, since otherwise, it would presumably have a default security patch level from another month.
That said, this is for the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) version, which is not the version that’s pushed to most smartphones. That can sometimes come later, but in most years Pixel phones get their update on the same day as the AOSP version, so if you have a Pixel 6 or another Pixel phone that’s still supported, then there’s a very high chance you’ll get Android 13 in September.
Exactly which date it will arrive is less clear, but Droid Life speculates that we could see Android 13 on September 6, as Google often pushes updates out on the first Monday of a month, and while September 5 is that Monday, that’s also Labor Day, so shifting it to the Tuesday would make sense.
Of course that’s just speculation for now, and while Pixel owners might see Android 13 then, most other handsets will get it weeks or even months later, as is typical with Android updates.
(Image credit: Google) Analysis: lots of evidence for September
This is compelling evidence that we’ll see Android 13 in September, but then a September launch always looked likely.
The biggest previous evidence of this came from Google’s Android 13 roadmap, which for a long time has suggested September would be when the finished version would land. Technically September isn’t named, but given the spacing on the chart, it looks like September was the target, as you can see in the image above.
The only real evidence that we wouldn’t see it in September is that Android 12 didn’t land until October of last year, but Android 11 and Android 10 both landed in September of their release years. So September looks very likely, putting it head-to-head with iOS 15.
In a bid to support creativity, Pinterest has very quietly launched a new collage-making app called Shuffles on the Apple App Store.
Looking at the App Store description, Shuffles allows people to create collages by grabbing images from Pinterest’s “massive photo library” or adding pictures via their smartphone camera. The app features a few simple editing tools like resizing, rotating, and layering images on top of one another.
Specific objects in an image can be removed with one tap and pasted elsewhere with Shuffles' cut-out tool. It reminds us of a similar feature on iOS 16 called Visual Look Up which lets people crop out photo assets and paste them to other apps like Messages.
Users, or Shufflers as Pinterest calls them, can add a personal flair to their creation with the app's animations and special effects catalog. And when done, collages can be shared either privately with friends or publicly for the world to admire.
People can even “remix” others’ collages by adding their own spin, but it’s unknown if remixing is exclusive to mutual friends or if it can be done to public creations. In fact aside from the App Store description, not much else is known about Shuffles.Pinned for a test
The app is currently exclusive to iOS, and according to TechCrunch, it’s invite-only. There is a waitlist that people can join to eventually gain access. However, it’s unknown when more people will be added. We reached out to Pinterest to see if we could get more information about the app like when will it launch for Android and when will it leave the testing phase. However, Pinterest is playing its cards close to the chest.
A spokesperson got back to us and said “As this app is in its initial test phase, we don’t have any additional details to share on the record at this moment.”
Fostering that creative outlet does seem to be a major drive for Pinterest as the spokesperson continues by saying “With more people coming to our platform for creative inspiration, we’re continuously experimenting with new ways to help Pinners and Creators bring their ideas to life.”
What was revealed by the Pinterest spokesperson is that Shuffles is a creation of the platform's TwoTwenty team.Pinterest expansion
As the representative puts it, TwoTwenty is “Pinterest’s innovative incubator team” meaning that it's the part of the company that comes up with new apps and ideas. The division launched in November 2021 and its name is a reference to where Pinterest first started in Palo Alto, California. Prior to Shuffles, TwoTwenty created Pinterest TV, an in-app video service where people can watch original content and shop featured products.
Other tech companies have their own incubator teams like Meta with NPE. In fact, NPE actually created an app that was very similar to Shuffles called E.gg and appears to have been more expansive because it supported texts, GIFs, and images for mixed media collages. If you’ve never heard of E.gg before, that’s because Meta shut it down six months after launch.
Whether it’s sheer coincidence or reviving an idea, Pinterest sees the potential in an inspirational collage app. Hopefully, Shuffles works out for the platform and it doesn’t get shut down half a year later.
If you’re on Android and feel like you’re missing out, TechRadar has you covered with a list of the best free collage makers.
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The Control Panel has been an integral – and iconic – part of Windows since the very first version of the operating system, which was launched in 1985, but its days are numbered, with Microsoft moving even more of its functionality to the newer Settings app in Windows 11.
The biggest feature to migrate from Control Panel to Settings is the ability to uninstall programs, including older Win32 desktop apps. The Settings window was able to uninstall some apps, but not all of them, so this move is certainly welcome, and means there’s less switching between screens to find what you need.Analysis: A stay of execution, but should Control Panel be put out of its misery?
Despite launching with every Windows version, the time has come for Microsoft to fully ditch the Control Panel. As you may expect of a feature that’s approaching its fourth decade, the Control Panel feels pretty archaic.
It’s changed little over the years, and while that’s led to it being a comfortingly familiar presence no matter what version of Windows you use, it’s really started to stand out among the more modern apps of Windows 11.
When Microsoft began to seriously overhaul the look of Windows, starting with Windows 8, it bungled the job, somewhat, keeping both older, legacy apps, like Control Panel, while introducing modern apps like Settings, which often did the same job.
This meant that Windows 8, as well as Windows 10 and Windows 11, felt like multiple operating systems bolted together, rather than one unified, modern, OS.
Microsoft is trying to rectify that with Windows 11 and has modernized many of its iconic apps, such as Paint.
It’s also started to migrate Control Panel features to Settings, with an aim of ditching Control Panel completely at some point. While this is a wise move, it still feels like Microsoft is moving too slowly, as users may visit the Settings app, only to find they actually need to go to Control Panel for the setting they want.
This was particularly annoying when uninstalling applications, as the Settings app would only uninstall certain apps, and you’d have to use Control Panel for the others.
Unsurprisingly, this caused a lot of confusion and frustration, and while we can understand Microsoft wanting to slowly move over to Settings, it would be far better for users to rip off the bandage, and just move everything to Settings at once, and kill off Control Panel once and for all.
Of course, we’ll be sad to see Control Panel disappear, but it wouldn’t just make Windows 11 easier to use, it’d save the iconic feature from a long, drawn-out death of a thousand cuts.
A new day is coming for your Android apps. Google is implementing new Play Store rules for developers as it attempts to stamp out intrusive ads, impersonators, and VPNService misuse.
The big changes will roll out incrementally with the first rule going into effect on August 31 and will be complete on July 31, 2023. Reading through the rules, it appears that some developers on the Play Store were getting away with uncouth practices, but Google is giving them ample time to clean up their act. The Play Store is also clarifying the language on several policies as it cracks down on misinformation.New rules
Starting August 31, apps will no longer be able to impersonate another developer/company nor can an app falsely imply that it's related to something else. Google gives the example of the RSS News Aggregator app created by Google Developer. This is an impersonator because first-party apps on the Play Store are listed under Google LLC. The developers were trying to use Google's name to sell their product.
Google also points to the YouTube Aggregator app using the official YouTube logo. This gives a false impression that YouTube Aggregator is an official app when it isn’t. Truth be told, it’s surprising that this file advertisement rule wasn’t implemented long ago, but better late than never.
Effective September 30, “full-screen interstitial ads” can no longer appear randomly. Ads will still be allowed; they just can’t pop up in the middle of a game or as you’re scrolling through a product description. And whenever full-screen ads do appear, they must be closeable after 15 seconds. Speaking from personal experience, this is a great change because nothing kills a game faster than an annoying 30-second ad that you can’t skip. Also on September 30, apps must make it clear how to manage or cancel a subscription service. Developers will no longer be able to hide the cancellation process in a labyrinth of menus.VPN clarity
Google is also tightening the rules on apps that use a VPN (virtual private network) as its core function. Apparently, developers were misusing Google’s VPNService to collect user data or manipulate traffic via ads. Starting November 1, VPNService can only be used for, among other things, parental control, web browsing, and device security apps.
And on July 31, 2023, Google will be restricting the Exact Alarm Permission so it can only be used on alarm and calendar apps. According to Mishaal Rahman, Senior Technical Editor for Esper, this restriction will also improve battery life. He explains that if too many apps schedule alarms at different times, it can quickly drain the phone's battery. By prioritizing apps where the main function is to be an alarm, it will solve this conflict.Effective immediately
Google has also updated many different policies to combat misinformation and make sure things stay appropriate for an app's userbase. There are so many changes, in fact, that we can't cover everything, so here are some of the more important ones.
Descriptions, screenshots, and titles must accurately reflect what the app does. For example, developers won’t be able to promote their puzzle game app with action-oriented images to make it seem more exciting. Ads now need to be appropriate to the app’s rating. Ads for a mature app can’t be placed into a video game rated for teenagers. Harmful medical misinformation will be more strictly enforced, as well. This includes misleading vaccine claims and the selling of prescription drugs without a prescription.
Again, it’s surprising these changes weren’t implemented earlier but cleaning up the Play Store is always a win in our books.
While we’re on the topic of the Google Play Store, the platform just hit its 10th anniversary recently and TechRadar’s Philip Berne made a list of the 10 apps that he stuck with all these years.