Best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch in 2018

Several of the best Wear OS apps come pre-installed on watches. Google Maps, Google Fit and Play Music offer the smartwatch essentials, and do the job well.

But what else is there? We’ll level with you. Wear OS’s app ecosystem is in a sorry state.

In the past few years there’s been little progress, and some of our original favorites aren’t even supported anymore. TripAdvisor? Gone. Wear Mini Launcher? It doesn’t support newer watches.

As we half-expected when modern smartwatches appeared, phones are still much better at doing most things. However, there are several Wear OS apps worth trying if you want to use your watch to do more than just the baked-in basics.

Lifesum

  • Lifesum
  • Free

Maintaining a food diary is tricky at the best of times. Get too into the idea and it can become a bit obsessive, and most other people find it chronically boring.

Lifesum’s Wear OS app is a decent way to stay somewhere in-between. It’s a very stripped-back version of the full phone app, intended to let you log your food, probably either just before or just after you eat it.

All the fine detail has been vacuumed-out. You don’t flick through mile-long menus that feature every brand and scrap of food in the supermarket.

There are just a handful of options for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. And for the main meals, you just choose ‘small’, ‘medium’ and ‘large’ portions, which you need to correlate with the rough number of calories involved.

None will cover a splurge on a large Pizza Hut pizza for one, but if you find one of those in front of you, just write it off as a cheat day. Lifesum has nothing for you.

Open the app and you’ll see the number of calories you have remaining. You can also log the number of glasses of water you drink, and it will tally the minutes of exercise you do.

The Lifesum app is in a slightly tough spot. It doesn’t have the specificity to work for those after fairly accurate calorie counting. However, if like many of us you find meal-recording too much of a time-consuming chore, the Wear OS version is worth a try.

Citymapper

  • Citymapper
  • Free

Urban navigation app Citymapper has been around on Wear since 2015. It hasn’t changed all that much since, but is still one of the few essential Wear OS downloads, at least for those who use the phone app.

For those new to the service, Citymapper offers journey planning between places in major cities. You can get routes on foot, by car, by taxi or, the most important, using public transport.

The major appeal is the way Citymapper digs into train, bus and tram tracking systems, so you can see by-the-minute when yours is meant to arrive. And this is what the Wear OS version of the app is useful for.

When you’re waiting in the cold for a bus that never seems to show, this app will at least tell you how much misery is left. Flick through the app’s various screens and you can also see the number of stops, and a map of where you need to get to for any on-foot sections.

It has all the important mid-journey parts of Citymapper. However, if you want to go anywhere but the ‘Home’ and ‘Work’ locations set in the main app beforehand, you have to take your phone out.

This is not a standalone app, which seems fairly obvious when you consider the always-on data required. However, it is kind of great.

ParKing

  • ParKing
  • Free

Sometimes, the simplest apps are the most useful. ParKing lets you record where you parked your car. As such, you won’t have to spend 45 minutes looking for it outside IKEA, its location having been wiped from your memory after three hours of queuing to buy shelving units and meatballs.

Boot the app and you simply press a ‘car’ button to log the location of your vehicle. You’ll then see a Google Maps-style pinpoint of where it is.

Little controls let you zoom in and out of this map view, and you can flick around the location using the touchscreen.

ParKing feels a bit like a mod for Google Maps. But if you own a car and like the “keep it simple, stupid” school of design, this one is worth checking out. It’s free too, with no in-app purchases.

Google Keep

  • Google Keep
  • Free

If you want an app that just lets you look at a shopping list on your wrist, try Bring!. However, Google’s own Keep is designed for all sorts of notes, and is perfect for daily to-do lists or even checking over draft emails or reciting some notes.

It works much as it does on your phone. You’ll see a list of your existing notes when you run the app, and then can either jump into one of those or start a new one.

When you’ve written a note, you can set a reminder for it at a certain time, unpin it from your Keep home screen or archive it. It’s a clean, simple app, like the best parts of the Google suite.

You can make lists as well as plain notes too, and tick off items. We’ve been using Keep on a Wear OS watch like this, as a way to track a daily to-do list. While it may not be quite as satisfying as ticking off a box on a piece of paper, it does avoid the ever-recurring search for pen and notepad.

Any problems? Google Keep is a strictly functional app. There’s no visual gloss to it, which some may find off-putting. The phone app is more visually pleasing, and being able to customize the color theme in the watch app would be a neat extra.

Accuweather

  • Accuweather
  • Free

There’s a good chance you’ll have stumbled upon Accuweather already. It’s one of the most popular weather apps, and a Wear OS staple.

The watch version comes in two halves. There’s an analog-style watch face, which has three customizable slots into which you can bung three bits of weather data. And then there’s the app proper.

In the app you just need to supply the location you want weather data for, and you’ll then see hour-by-hour reports. Or reports for the days coming up if that’s what you’re after.

The watch face in particular is handy. And not bad-looking either.

As you might expect, the app is relatively basic, and lacks features seen in the phone version. There’s no radar view that lets you look at rain clouds on a world map, for example.

There’s no multi-location support either. If you just want one location’s weather data that’s fine, but if you need to switch between two or more, you have to use the location search function. Typing in place names all the time can feel like a waking nightmare.

However, this is the go-to weather app for Wear OS, and a very handy way to see if it’s raining later without asking Google Assistant. Not all of us want to start talking to our wrists every day.

Seven Minute Workout

  • Seven Minute Workout
  • Free or $9.99/£9.99 per month for premium

This is one of the most useful standalone Wear OS apps. It’s a quick, neat way to get a guided workout before you go to work. Or, hey, even at work if you’re ambitious.

You’ll see animations of the exercises you’re meant to perform. Nicely animated ones too. By default, these exercises come in 30-second bursts, with short recovery rests in-between. During these you’ll see a preview animation of the next move to prepare for.

7 Minute Worksout’s animations are great. They give the app a professional look that most Wear OS apps don’t have. However, you probably shouldn’t try to learn the exercises from scratch off a 1.5-inch screen. It’s the combination of vibrate feedback and visuals that makes the app work as well as it does.

Once you’ve used it a few times you should only have to look at the screen for about 20 seconds in the seven minutes. The rest of the time you can just use the vibrate buzzes, which let you know when it’s time to stop and get ready to switch to the next exercise.

Use this as a standalone app and you can try a few basic circuits, enough to wake you up before you go to work. However, download the phone app, then subscribe to the $9.99/£9.99 per month premium service, and you can access many more. Yoga stretches, Pilates, and sets that work out a particular part of the body are all in there.

Favorite them in the phone app and you can then run them on your watch. Any bad points? The whole concept of the seven-minute workout, other than the time limit, is that the only equipment used is a chair. It’s not for the hardcore crowd.

Wear Casts

  • Wear Casts
  • Free

There are a few podcast apps for Wear OS, including phone-favorite Podcast Republic. However, Wear Casts is the current best of the bunch if you want to do more than just control a phone podcast player on your wrist.

Wear Casts lets you search for podcasts using the app’s podcast directory or the search function. It uses the standard Wear OS options of voice input or the virtual keyboard, which can be a pain when some podcast names aren’t even real words.

But that’s not Wear Casts’ fault.

When you’ve found a podcast, you add it to a favorites list, which makes it show up on the app’s ‘home’ display. You can flick through episodes, play them over Bluetooth headphones, and even download them for offline use – great for exercise.

Wear Casts is also one of the more stable, fast Wear OS apps, making it a real pleasure to use.

The only painful part is getting your favorite podcasts logged in the app. However, there’s a way around this too.

Wear Casts must be one of the few Wear OS apps where there’s a phone version, but it’s a companion to the watch software. Not the other way around.

Use the Wear Casts phone download and you can search for and add podcasts, so you can avoid that tiny Wear OS virtual keyboard. It took us several minutes just to type “John Hodgman” into the thing.

Unified Remote Full

  • Unified Remote Full
  • $3.99/£3.89

Smartwatches are great for quick, simple interactions, not the kind of drawn-out stuff we never thought we’d do on a phone in 2009. And now do every day.

Unified Remote is a puppet master of these kind of quick controls. It’s a remote app that lets you plug in over 100 different kinds of control. You can control Spotify or Netflix from your wrist, turn your computer off and even use the watch’s screen as a trackpad. You add extra features like little modules.

So you can control everything in your house through your watch? Not quite. Unified Remote can control software on your PC, but not instances of Spotify and Netflix on your phone or, say, PS4.

If you have an entertainment PC in your living room, this app is great. It’s handy if you plug a laptop into your TV too. You can control Windows, Mac and Linux systems, but not other platforms.

The Unified Remote team does say it is working on getting the platform to control iOS and Android devices, though, which would make it even more useful.

Zombies, Run!

  • Zombies, Run!
  • Free or $3.99/£3.69 a month, $24.99/£23.49 a year for the pro version

We’ve recommended the full phone version of Zombies, Run! for years. But it only came to Wear OS at the tail end of 2017.

Some of the TechRadar crew love running. But if you find it a total chore, an app like this can help.

Zombies, Run! maps your runs into the context of a zombie survival story, not just a Google Maps journey view. It feels a little like an audiobook that uses your run progress to determine when you should hear the next segment.

It won’t take over your whole run either. You can play music or a podcast in the background, and the app will take over when it needs to.

Over the days and weeks, your runs represent missions, many of which involve picking up the essentials and delivering them to the characters in the Abel township. It’s the story’s encampment of zombie apocalypse survivors.

You can ‘play’ Zombies, Run! for free, and after the first few missions new ones unlock at a rate of one per week. Pay for a subscription and you can play as many of the 300-plus missions as you like. It’s more fun than a standard couch-to-5K.

RunKeeper

  • RunKeeper
  • Free or $39.99/£29.99 per year for premium

A while back Endomondo was one of the top Wear apps. But it has not been updated to support Wear 2.0, which tells us a lot about how many people were using the Wear OS version.

RunKeeper survives, though, and it lets you run without taking your phone out, as long as your watch has built-in GPS.

It shows you stats as you run, and there are some battery-saving display tweaks to help save your watch’s stamina. And you can use it for free.

For many, the non-paid version will do the trick. Upgrade for £8.99/$9.99 per month, or a much more attractive $39.99/£29.99 per year, and you get training plans, broadcasting of your runs on social media (this will need a phone) and a feature that compares your workouts, so you can track progress better.

If you don’t upgrade the only real question is whether RunKeeper is actually much more useful than Google Fit, which nowadays is a great little Wear OS run tracker in its own right.

  • Best Wear OS watch 2018

GoPro Hero 7 Black vs Hero 6 Black vs Hero 5 Black: 8 key differences you need to know

GoPro has no shortage of competitors today, each vying for a bigger slice of the action camera pie, but it remains the brand that many associate when they think of capturing any kinds of thrills. 

Its wide range of suitable models is no doubt part of why this is: from its tiny budget Hero Session offering to the 360-degree-capturing delights of its Fusion model, there appears to be a camera for everyone.

The company’s Hero models are its most popular, with White, Silver and Black variants typically released at three different price points simultaneously. It’s the Black option that heads the triplet, with more powerful specs and an asking price to match, and the current option is the Hero7 Black. Look hard enough, though, and you can still find some of the older Hero5 Black and Hero6 Black models knocking around. 

All three models share many commonalities, such as 4K video, 10m/33ft waterproofing without a case and Voice Control, together with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so what exactly do you gain by going for the newer versions? We drill into the spec sheets of all three to find out.

GoPro Hero7 Black vs Hero6 Black vs Hero5 Black: processor

GoPro didn’t give the processing engine inside Hero5 Black any particular name, but the Hero6 Black was notable for being the first to feature a fresh ‘GP1’ processing engine.

This engine, which also continued to the Hero7 Black, provides additional features, better stabilisation than on the Hero5 Black and superior image quality too, which we’ll look at more closely below. It also brought with it Global Tone Mapping for video to deliver up to two extra stops of dynamic range in high-contrast scenes, which, in turn, helped to boost color accuracy.

GoPro Hero7 Black vs Hero6 Black vs Hero5 Black: stabilisation

One thing that has consistently improved with every successive Hero model is image stabilisation.

In the Hero6 Black this came courtesy of the GP1 engine, and we found this to have a noticeable advantages over the system inside the Hero5 Black. The Hero7 Black, meanwhile, ramped things up even further, being the first model to offer HyperSmooth, which the company describes as gimbal-like stabilisation.

As we discovered in our review, this system is very effective at smoothing out bumps and knocks when travelling over rough terrain. It can be called upon when shooting right up to the maximum 4K/60p option, and on some of the other settings where it’s not available a more standard stabilisation option is available in its place.

GoPro Hero7 Black vs Hero6 Black vs Hero5 Black: video recording

The biggest change between the Hero 5 Black and Hero 6 Black concerns their respective top frame rates when shooting 4K footage. While the Hero 5 Black tops out at 30fps, the Hero 6 Black powers on to deliver 60fps shooting at 4K. The Hero 5 Black does still offer frame rates beyond 30fps, but this comes at the cost of resolution.

Another difference between the models is down to the compression formats available. The Hero 5 Black only offers the H.264 (MPEG-4) codec, while the Hero 6 Black and Hero 7 Black offer both H.264 and H.265 (HVEC) flavours, thanks to the GP1 engine. H.265 is a newer and more efficient format, which has the result of you being able to squeeze more footage onto your card.

While the Hero 5 Black manages 240fps shooting at 720p, and 120fps capture at 1080p, the Hero 6 Black and Hero 7 Black are capable of 240fps at 1080p resolution. The latter model also adds an 8x Super Slow-mo option that slows down footage captured at these settings when playing it back in camera.

The Hero7 Black adds a handful off extra sweeteners to further separate it from its forebears

The Hero7 Black adds a handful off extra sweeteners to further separate it from its forebears. TimeWarp video provides stabilised hyperlapse-style results without you needing a tripod, with footage sped up to a maximum 30x, while another extra addition is the Short Clips feature, which restricts footage to either 15- or 30-second clips, disciplining you into capturing only the finest moments of your adventures. 

Audio capture is also said to have been improved on the newer Hero 7 Black, partly thanks to a redesigned microphone membrane. 

GoPro Hero7 Black vs Hero6 Black vs Hero5 Black: Image capture

Each of the three models is capable of capturing 12MP stills, either in single-shot or 30fps burst modes, and each can also be set to a time-lapse mode. Each can also capture raw files in addition to JPEGs. 

Where they differ is with the secondary capture options. The WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) option found on the Hero5 Black transformed into the HDR (High Dynamic Range) option on the Hero6 Black and Hero7 Black, taking advantage of the GP1 engine to better image quality under high-contrast conditions. 

The most recent Hero7 Black also combined its HDR option with multi-frame noise reduction and local tone mapping into a single SuperPhoto mode. This uses scene analysis to work out which of these technologies (if any) to deploy when it senses they could be of use, saving you from having to manually call upon individual options.

GoPro Hero7 Black vs Hero6 Black vs Hero5 Black: Wi-Fi

One common criticism of the Hero line has been the time it takes to offload footage wirelessly from camera to smart device, so this is one area where it’s focused. The inclusion of 5GHz Wi-fi on the Hero6 Black delivered a 3x speed advantage over the Hero5 Black, and this was maintained for the newer Hero7 Black.

GoPro Hero7 Black vs Hero6 Black vs Hero5 Black: Touch zoom

The Hero 6 Black and Hero 7 Black each offer a Touch Zoom option, which allows the user to swipe their finger up and down the side of the rear touchscreen to gradually zoom into the scene, whether they’re shooting videos or images. While quality suffers as you zoom, it does at least provide a way to frame images at more standard focal lengths when the default option is a little too wide. 

Despite being equipped with a touchscreen, Touch Zoom was only came to the line with the Hero 6 Black, although it’s still possible to zoom to pre-determined points by touching the screen.

GoPro Hero7 Black vs Hero6 Black vs Hero5 Black: Livestreaming

The Hero 7 Black is alone in offering the option to livestream footage to Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Vimeo platforms among others, with footage saved onto the camera’s microSDHC/SDXC memory card at the same time.

GoPro Hero7 Black vs Hero6 Black vs Hero5 Black: Vertical shooting

A smaller change on the most recent Hero7 Black is vertical shooting. The camera’s UI flips to portrait orientation when you have the camera positioned that way and saves images vertically, making it easier to embed into Instagram Stories and on other mobile-specific outputs.

  • Best action camera: 10 top models for the GoPro generation

UK businesses falling behind by not embracing AI

British businesses have been urged to embrace AI technology to help the country become a hub for development and innovation.

A new report from Microsoft has highlighted that the UK has “a clear opportunity” to strike out as an AI leader, but is currently being held back by the fact that many businesses don’t have a concrete technology plan.

The report, which surveyed over a thousand business leaders and 4,000 workers across the UK, found that companies that have already begun using AI are already seeing tangible benefits.

UK AI use

Overall, more than half (51 per cent) of the business leaders surveyed revealed they do not have an AI strategy in place to address the changing needs brought on by rapid technology innovation.

These changes are so severe that 41 per cent stated that they believe their current business model will cease to exist within the next five years.

Despite these worries, many businesses seem unwilling to change or alter their current practices, with less than half (46 per cent) of UK leaders saying they thought it was worth re-training their current workforce – despite nearly two-thirds (59 per cent) of workers saying they are open to experimenting with AI to do new things at work. 

As a result, just 18 per cent of employees say they are actively learning new skills to help them keep up with future changes to their job as a result of AI, and 41 per cent saying they thought AI will push out older workers within the next five years. 

“AI represents a huge opportunity, but only if UK organisations embrace its application in the right way,” said Clare Barclay, chief operating officer, Microsoft UK. 

“AI is not about making UK businesses leaner, it’s about how we use the technology to make them stronger. In doing so, we can make our work more meaningful and boost UK competitiveness.”

  • What is AI? Everything you need to know

Best earbuds 2018: the best earbuds and earphones for any budget

Best Earbuds and In-Ear Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best earbuds and earphones you can buy in 2018.

As much as we’d love to stay home and listen to music using our pristine umpteen-watt floor-standing speakers, at some point, we have to leave home. 

But just because we’re heading out for the day doesn’t mean we have to leave exceptional sound quality at our doorstep – a great pair of in-ear headphones (or earbuds) can contend with some high-end systems and cost a lot less.

Not only are the best pairs of in-ear headphones ultra-comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, but newer models can be completely wire-free and support Hi-Res audio codecs like LDAC and aptX HD. 

That being said, our list of the best headphones are routinely tested to ensure they’re still the best in the business. We’re looking for pristine sound quality, convenient features and bullet-proof build quality at a price you can afford. 

While you won’t find any discount-bin earbuds on our list, you can rest easy knowing that the ‘buds you see below are durable, long-lasting and sound (for the most part) out-of-this-world. As we review more models this list will change, which means you can expect that you’re getting the best headphones on the market at any point and any time you buy them. 

Can’t decide which type of headphones to buy? Check out our guide video below:

The best earbuds and in-ear headphones of 2018:

After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones and the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones we were blown away at just how much value each one gave in their prospective price ranges. 

For $100 (£100, about AU$168), it’s hard to think of a better sounding and built headphone than the 1MORE Triple Driver. That said, if you want just that little extra refinement and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are still a bargain at twice the price. 

There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Their rubber cable is annoying and its remote control feels cheap but these are just nitpicks. But, for their price, it’s impossible to do better than 1MORE’s Triple Driver in-ear headphones. 

Read the full review: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone

While truly wireless earbuds are undoubtedly the future of portable audio, they still present compromises in battery life and wireless reliability. Plus, they’re easy to lose if you’re not careful. Neckbuds, or earbuds that are worn around the neck, are a great alternative to true wireless earbuds as they offer longer battery life for continuous listening and stronger wireless performance. 

That being said, if you’re interested in picking up a pair, it’s hard to do better than the RHA MA390 Wireless, which easily stands as one of the best neckbuds on the market. After spending several weeks with them, we came away impressed with the package RHA has come up with: The headphones are built extremely well, have a fun sound signature, can take a beating and still remain relatively affordable. 

It’s main rival, the OnePlus Bullets Wireless (featured below), are also excellent, however the RHA MA390 offer more dynamic sound and better build quality. 

 Read the full review: RHA MA390 Wireless

RHA T20i

RHA T20i

Good sound is subjective, yes, but there are things that we can all agree on that make a headphone sound good: Bass should be tight and impactful, highs detailed but not harsh, and mids that are smooth like honey. 

Most headphone manufacturers shoot for these specs, but what if you want a little more bass or want to increase the energy of the highs? For most headphones, your only option is to mess with equalization. But RHA has a different idea. 

The RHA T20i is an excellent sounding pair of in-ear headphones with a neat party trick: customizable filters. These filters thread into the headphone housings and let you choose from Bass, Treble, and Reference. Each filter makes an audible impact and are easy to swap out on the go. 

As a package, the build quality, sound, and customizable filters make the RHA T20i a must-have for audiophiles on the go. In fact, they sound so good, they made us want to give up our wireless headphones.

Read the full review: RHA T20i

Optoma NuForce BE Sport4

Optoma NuForce BE Sport4

The NuForce BE Sport4 wireless earbuds are that rare find: earbuds that are good for basically all situations. While they’re specifically designed for use in the gym and on the track, the BE Sport4 do an awesome job isolating audio in a crowded city environment and are even good enough for home listening.  

The BE Sport4 earbuds have claimed 10-hour battery life, which we found to be pretty close to the mark in our time with them, and from empty you can get two hours of use from just a 15-minute charge – ideal for those needing a quick top-up while they put on their trainers and pack a gym kit. 

Consider this a warning shot fellow audio manufacturers: build and audio quality do not need to be sacrificed in order to keep earbuds affordable. 

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4

OnePlus Bullets Wireless

OnePlus Bullets Wireless

OnePlus is most known for its “flagship killer” phones like the OnePlus 6, but the company also makes headphones – the best example of which are the company’s excellent Bullets in-ears.  

For $70 (£70, about AU$124), the OnePlus Bullets Wireless offer an incredible value in the neck-bud headphone category. Sure, true wireless headphones are en vogue now, but tethered wireless headphones offer better battery life and signal strength for much less money. 

Read the full review: OnePlus Bullets Wireless

Optoma NuForce BE Sport3

Optoma NuForce BE Sport3

NuForce knocked it out of the park with the BE Sport3 headphones. They’re an incredible value for a pair of wireless headphones that sound good, last all day, have a bulletproof build and incredible noise isolation. 

While they’re not the most dynamic or resolving headphones, NuForce shows us that the future of wireless headphones is a bright one.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport3

Jabra Elite 65t True Wireless

Jabra Elite 65t True Wireless

If you want a pair of high quality truly wireless earbuds that aren’t the Apple AirPods, then the Jabra Elite 65t should be at the top of your list. 

After spending over a month with them, we came away impressed with the well-rounded package that Jabra managed to create: The earbuds offer a subtle, mature look and a reliable wireless connection, which isn’t always the case with truly wireless earbuds. Plus, they sound great compared to the competition. 

While the Jabra Elite 65t are easily one of the highest scoring true wireless headphones we’ve reviewed, there are a few others on the market worth considering: If you want a pair of exercise earbuds, there’s the Jabra Elite Sport which has a higher water resistance and handy sports-oriented features. For audiophiles who don’t mind stretching the budget, the active noise cancelling Sony WF-1000X are an excellent choice. Bassheads will want to try the SOL Republic Amps Air.  

If you only have the budget for one of these, though, go for the Elite 65t.

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

With the appealing candy apple detailing, Sennheiser gets you in the door. But once you’re in, you’ll stay for the killer sound quality that comes from the Momentum In-Ear earphones.

These are the among the best deals in the headphones market as it stands today. The company has a version available for each flavor of mobile OS –Android and iOS – so everyone can get in on the goodness.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones

1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones

They’re expensive, but the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones are worth every penny. 1MORE hit it out of the park with this flagship pair of in-ear headphones with its balanced sound build quality, smartphone compatibility and price. These in-ear headphones will make mobile audiophiles very happy. 

The only reservation that we have is that the Quad Drivers face tough competition from 1MORE’s own cheaper Triple Driver sibling which costs half the price (which sit pretty at the number one spot on our list). 

In terms of value, the 1MORE Triple Driver headphones are the winner but for those who want just a bit better build and more detailed sound, the 1MORE Quad Driver headphones are worth the extra money. 

Read the full review: 1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones

Optoma NuForce HEM6

Optoma NuForce HEM6

While they can’t quite top other in-ears like the exceptional1MORE Triple Driver or RHA’s T10i, Optoma’s NuForce HEM6 does bring a lot to the table. Namely, that includes a great-sounding – and ultra-comfortable – pair of headphones. 

So, why are they so far down the list? 

While the NuForce BE Sport3 strikes the perfect balance between performance and price tag, the HEM6 skews a bit towards the expensive side without offering enough of a difference in performance to warrant the sticker price. That’s not to say these are a bad pair of headphones – they’re quite the opposite – it’s just that we feel there are better values out there in the headphone world.

Read the full review: Optoma NuForce HEM6

Additional resources: 

  • Check out TechRadar’s exhaustive guides to the best headphones to buy today including the best on-ear headphones and the best over-ear headphones.
  • For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the best wireless headphones, the best true wireless headphones, and the best noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Looking for some headphones you can take in the pool or on your run? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones and best running headphones.

Best over-ear headphones 2018: the best-sounding, most comfortable cans

Best Over-Ear Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best Hi-Fi over-ear headphones you can buy in 2018. 

When it comes to raw sound quality, nothing beats the sense of scale a pair of decent over-ear headphones can provide. If pristine audio performance is what you’re after, you can simply do no better than the headphones you’ll find here.

Now, that does mean making a few trade-offs. That might mean buying a pair of wired headphones instead of wireless ones, or losing out on features like active noise cancellation so audio can sound as neutral as possible.

If you’re looking for the best wireless headphones and best noise-cancelling headphones guides specifically, we can help you out, but don’t feel bad if you’re specifically looking for Hi-Fi headphones and don’t mind shaving off some of the non-essential features to get it. 

With that said, this guide will focus on sound quality above all else. There are a couple of wireless and noise-cancelling equipped choices in our list, but that’s only because they sound great in addition to packing these features.  

Has something changed since the last time you visited this page? That’s completely normal. We’re always updating this guide with the best headphones – which, as you can expect, changes frequently. That said, you can expect this guide to be as up-to-date as we can get it on any given day, ensuring that you’re getting out top picks all year round. Without further ado, here’s our guide to getting the most for your money, whatever your budget. 

What are the best over-ear headphones?

While Beyerdynamic may not be as well known as its German brother, Sennheiser, the audio company has a history of creating some of the best sounding audio gear on the market – the company’s DT770, DT880 and DT990 were renown for their excellent build and sound quality. 

Above them all, however, stands the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, an open-back version of the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, a headphone which won our Editor’s Choice for its imaging, design and value for the money. Both headphones are priced the same ($599, £589, AU$1,159), so you won’t find a deal picking up one over the other. The difference here comes down to sound. 

As they’re open-back, the DT 1990 Pro are meant to be used at home or in the studio for serious analytical listening. Sound is able to get in and out but the good news is that the open-back design gives you the DT 1990 Pro a great sense of space. Soundstage is quite wide, too, allowing even the most lackadaisical listener to pinpoint the exact location of where each instrument is playing.  

If you’ve been searching for a pair of Hi-Fi headphones that are used by some of the world’s leading audio engineers, these are them.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

Philips Fidelio X2

The Philips Fidelio X2’s are a superb pair of headphones offering premium comfort and build quality with a sound that rivals even the most vaunted audiophile cans. Perhaps on sheer sound quality they’re a notch off the likes of the top Oppo or Sennheiser offerings – but the fact that you’d be saving vast amounts of cash by opting for the Philips is just a no brainer.

Read the full review: Philips Fidelio X2

Best over-ear headphones

The Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pros are a stunning pair of headphones. Are they expensive? To some no, to most yes; but for the sheer listening experience they deliver you’d be hard pressed to take them off after putting them on, even using them with portable HRA players and mobile phones.

That said, they really do push the boundaries of what you can do with a dynamic driver. All praise to Beyerdynamic for putting together such a wonderful product.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro

The fourth entry on our list easily could’ve been the first if it didn’t cost well over $1,000/£1,000. The Sennheiser HD 800 are, hands down, one of the best-sounding pairs of over-ear headphones on the planet, affectionately praised by inner circles of audiophiles the world over. When paired with the proper hardware, they sound absolutely excellent – balanced in every way. 

Unfortunately, they’re supremely expensive and require more audio equipment than the average consumer is ready to buy. Should you find yourself in need – or, let’s be honest, in want – of amazing over-ear headphones, these are them.

Read the full review: Sennheiser HD 800

If you’re looking for a pair of audiophile headphones that won’t break the bank, the 1MORE Triple Driver over-ear is a great place to start. Its build quality and detailed sound really impress and we think bass-lovers will like the slight mid-bass emphasis and control in the lower registers while not sacrificing the mids or highs. The headphone reveals a good level of detail throughout the frequency range and never get harsh in the upper registers. 

To that end, it’s hard to fault the $250 (about £190, AU$338) 1MORE Triple Driver Over-Ear, making them an easy recommendation for the price. 

Read the full review: 1MORE Triple Driver Over-Ear

The B&W P9 Signatures are simply some of the best-sounding headphones we’ve ever used. They have a tight, refined sound that offers an almost unmatched level of detail. 

That said, the fact remains that they’re a comparatively feature-light pair of cans. If you want to spend less then you can get a much more portable pair that’ll be better suited to the morning commute or a plane ride thanks to additional features like noise-cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity.

But, if you’re looking to invest in a seriously high-quality pair of headphones to listen to a high-quality music collection, then there are few that can match the P9s at this price point. 

Read the full review: B&W P9 Signature

An improvement on Sony’s existing flagship, the Sony WH-1000XM2 sound great, pack excellent noise-cancellation, and manage to do this all wirelessly. 

Other headphones offer better sound quality, longer-range wireless connectivity, or better battery life, but the Sony WH-1000XM2 manage to offer the best balance of features and performance. 

It’s also got a couple of interesting tricks up its sleeve like a selective noise-cancellation mode that lets in certain useful sounds, and a shortcut that allows you to quickly hear what’s going on around you. 

Offering all of this without a serious price-premium over the competition means the Sony WH-1000XM2 are a great choice for on-the-go music listeners. 

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM2

Audiophiles typically shun wireless headphones because of poor sound quality. However, Bluetooth audio has improved tremendously over the years. There are now plenty of wireless headphones that can please the music enthusiast, with Hi-Res Audio support being more and more prevalent.

That said, the Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT feature some of the best wired and wireless sound quality for a headphone under $200 (£150). They play well with all music genres and offer a near-flat response curve. They’re extremely comfortable for long listening sessions and are well built. Battery life is equally impressive with nearly 40 hours of playback from a charge. And while they lack some features of more expensive wireless headphones like active noise cancelling and multi-device pairing, these are tradeoffs worth making for phenomenal sound.

Read the full review: Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT

The Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless are the best-sounding wireless headphones you can buy, period. Sound is spacious, detailed, and makes you want to rediscover your music library. Their bulky design and average noise isolation make them terrible for travel but if you’re looking for the best sound from a wireless headphone, this is it.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless

Best Over-Ear Headphones

After cutting the wires off its flagship cans with the Bose QC35 headphones, Bose’s QC35 II are a slightly more minor upgrade. This time the big addition is Google Assistant, which can be summoned with the press of a button. 

Otherwise these are more or less the same headphones that we enjoyed the first time around. The QC35s aren’t the best sounding out there, but their noise-cancellation is class-leading and if that’s your priority then they’re a great choice. 

Read the full review: Bose QC35 II

  • Check out TechRadar’s exhaustive guides to the best headphones to buy today including the best on-ear headphones and the best in-ear headphones.
  • For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the best wireless headphones and the best noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Looking for some headphones you can take in the pool? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones.

Check out our videos below for a roundup of the best headphones available.

Telefonica reveals its rulebook for AI

Telefonica has become one of the first major technology companies to reveal exactly what guidelines it will place on the use of AI technology.

The Spanish telecoms giant and parent company of O2 has released its Principles of Artificial Intelligence, laying out how it plans to utilise the technology to ensure a positive impact on society. 

Promising “integrity and transparency” in its design and development of AI technology, Telefonica’s rules include the company’s ongoing stance on areas such as equality, transparency, clarity, privacy, and security.

  • What is AI? Everything you need to know

AI rules

“We’re concerned about the possible use of artificial intelligence for the creation or dissemination of fake news, addiction to technology, and the possible reinforcement of social bias in the algorithms in general”, said José María Álvarez-Pallete, Chairman & CEO of Telefónica.

“These phenomena undermine the trust of our customers, our most valuable asset, and hinder the development of a fairer society. Consequently, we will do everything in our power to collaborate with other entities in order to eradicate them”, he adds.

Telefonica is currently hard at work developing its 5G network infrastructure, and AI could certainly play its part there, allowing the company to offload testing or analytical tasks to an AI system.

Among the provisions demanded for AI in its new guidelines are that the system provide fair results, without discriminating against race, gender or sexual orientation, as well as generating “tangible benefits” for people.

AI systems also need to have privacy and security by design, and be transparent and explainable, allowing users to know what data is being collected in their interactions and for what purpose.

  • These are the 10 most important breakthroughs in artificial intelligence

Apple October 2018 launch live blog: keep up to date with the whole announcement

Apple is having yet another launch to round out its 2018 announcements, and the good news is you’re in the right place to follow along with all the unveilings live.

This is our live blog, and once the event starts we recommend sticking here and refreshing the page to keep abreast of all the latest news on rumored the MacBook 2018, Mac mini 2018 and iPad Pro 2018. 

If we’re lucky, we may even hear of a MacBook Air 2018 and perhaps a few other surprises too.

Apple is hosting the event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House in New York. We’ll be there in the room to keep this updated with the latest, and the good news is it’s earlier in the day than other normal Apple launches.

It’s all set to start at 10AM EDT /  7AM PDT / 2PM GMT today or 12AM AEST Wednesday October 31. Check out our how to watch the Apple October 2018 event livestream to find out more.

Apple October 2018 launch live blog

All times in Eastern Standard Time (ET)

7:55 – Tim Cook is awake… well, it’s more than likely he has been up and at ’em for the last few hours but he has now tweeted. Below you can see an image of the event hall in New York.

As always, there’s no clear messaging in his image or tweet that suggests what exactly we’ll see in the next few hours. There’s no fooling us though Tim, we know it’s set to be iPads and MacBooks.

6:30 – It’s worth reminding you now that you can watch the launch later through a variety of livestreams from Apple. You can use Safari, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox and even Twitter to watch the launch.

Here’s our guide on how to watch the Apple launch, but be sure to keep this live blog open too so you can read alongside while you’re watching it.

6:20 – OK, we’re up and ready to go. This is being written from the UK, but our US team is going to be out of bed very soon to shower, and more importantly eat, ahead of today’s big launch.

Skype for Web gets HD video calls and much more

If you use the web version of Skype, then you’ll doubtless be interested to learn that Microsoft has brought all the latest features to the web-based spin of its messaging service – or at least to the preview version.

As spotted by MS Power User, a big update to the Skype for Web preview (which you can access here – providing you’re running Chrome or Microsoft’s Edge browser) brings with it all the latest features from the desktop and mobile versions.

That means web users can now enjoy HD video calling (individual or group video calls), and they can record calls, as well.

A new Notifications Panel collects all your reactions to messages, @mentions in group chats, and more, in one central hub so you can see what’s happened at a glance.

Search me…

There’s also a search function to let you easily find a particular message in a conversation, and a Chat Media Gallery keeps track of all the media, links and files you’ve been sent, again for quick and convenient access.

That’s a lot of smart added functionality aimed at web users, for sure.

As we saw recently, another feature currently in testing is the ability for Windows 10 users to send money via Skype (using their PayPal account), with no fees charged by Microsoft (although PayPal may still exact a transaction fee when transferring money across borders, for example).

  • If you don’t want Skype, these are the best free alternatives

iOS 12.1 release date and all iOS 12 features explained

The official iOS 12.1 release date is Tuesday, October 30, according to Apple, bringing new features like Group FaceTime, more than 70 new emoji, and eSIM support.

The shift from iOS 12 to iOS 12.1 on your iPhone and iPad coincides with the Apple’s big iPad Pro and Mac launch event in New York City. That means additional tweaks to make room for the iPad Pro 2018 may be a part of the software update.

Apple has made its mobile operating system competitive in the wake of Google’s Android Pie update and next week’s Google Pixel 3 launch. 

Here’s everything you need to know about iOS 12.1 and iOS 12, whether you’re upgrading an older iPhone (that will be faster), or getting it out of the box with iPhone XS Max.

What’s the difference between the latest phones showcasing iOS? Watch our handy explainer to find out:

iOS 12.1 launches on Tuesday, October 30

  • 70+ new emoji – good news for redheads, curly-haired and bald folks
  • Group FaceTime for up to 32 users is part of the iOS 12.1 beta
  • Adjust photo background blur (bokeh) in real time (not just afterward)
  • eSIM support menus are live in the beta – but carrier support is needed
  • References ‘iPadfall2018’ – a big iPad Pro 2018 hint

The iOS 12.1 release date is Tuesday, October 30, according to Apple. The timing is in line with the company’s launch event for the iPad Pro 2018 and new Macs.

There are five important iOS 12.1 changes:

70+ new emoji
On October 2, Apple announced that more than 70 new emoji were launching with the iOS 12.1 developer beta 2. Get ready for red, gray and curly hair options, as well as bald people, according to Apple’s official press release. Softballs, skateboards, and frisbees are here for alternative sports, while new animal and food emojis include kangaroos, lobsters (sometimes a food, always an animal) bagels, and cupcakes.

Group FaceTime
First, Group FaceTime for up to 32 users is here. To test it out, however, you’re going to have to pair up with people who have iOS 12.1 beta, so its use cases are limited right now.

Portrait Mode bokeh effects
Second, Apple has improved the bokeh (background blur) feature in portrait mode on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Before you could only adjust the blur after a picture was taken. Now, with iOS 12.1, you can also adjust the blur in real time, as you’re snapping a photo. This helps you better frame your portrait photos.

eSIM support – kind of
Third, eSIM iPhone support is live with the proper setup menus. But there’s a catch for setting up the simulated dual-SIM – you’ll have to wait for your carrier to start supporting the feature, which may happen on the official iOS 12.1 release date.

iOS 12.1 fixes bugs
Fourth, the iOS 12.1 release notes indicate that you’re in for some bug fixes. That’s very good news if you’re experiencing problems. Apple’s updates usually remedy the issue, however, you may have to wait until iOS 12.2 in order to fix the iPhone XS and XS Max charging issues.

iPadfall2018 reference
Fifth, although not a feature, the iOS 12.1 code references ‘iPad2018fall’ and that’s interesting to us. We’re likely to see the iPad Pro 2018 launch. New iPad Pro rumors point to a bezel-reduced iPad, one with a TrueDepth camera for Face ID and Memoji. There are plenty of hints in iOS 12.1 that Animoji and Memoji are going to be supersized on Apple’s tablet soon.

The top iOS 12 features

1. iOS 12 makes your old iPhone and iPad faster

  • Older iPhones are 40% to 70% faster at certain tasks
  • Apple’s looking to put the problematic iOS 11 behind it

iOS 12 focuses on reliability and performance with this update, and it supports all of the same iPhones and iPads that iOS 11 worked with.

Apple highlights the iPhone 6 Plus, specifically, saying iOS 12 makes this phone 40% faster at launching apps, 70% faster at launching the camera app, and 50% faster at displaying the keyboard. Keyboard typing and other routine features on older iPhones can slow down with every new iOS update, and Apple is looking to change these pain points with iOS 12.

This makes your existing iPhone and iPad more reliable, and your older devices can be used by family members, or will be more sellable – they don’t have to sit in a drawer because they’re too slow.

2. Grouped notifications

  • Grouped notification on iOS 12 clean up individual notifications mess
  • Smartly grouped by app, topic, thread
  • You can clear a whole group of notifications with a single swipe

Grouped notifications are a part of iOS 12. This is a small, but very important tweak (maybe the most important in the iOS 12 update) because it changes the lock screen alerts you see each and every day. 

It binds together notifications by message threads and topics, making it easier to see everything at a glance. Right now, individual notifications in the morning are a big pain to check as they pile up.

3. Memoji and changes to Animoji

  • Personalized ‘Memoji’ to look like you or ‘the real you’
  • Four new Animoji masks: Ghost, Koala, Tiger and T-Rex
  • Animoji and Memoji clips last 30 seconds (up to 10 seconds)
  • Tongue and wink detection for iOS 12 masks

Memoji is a customizable mask that can look like you – or the real you, according to Apple. It still resides in Messages. You can select hairstyles, eye color and accessories like earrings and sunglasses.

Like Animoji, this is a feature for newer iPhones in the X lineup as it requires Apple’s TrueDepth front-facing camera.

Animoji is expanded, not just with new masks, but with tongue detection and wink detection. Ghost, Koala, Tiger, and T-Rex will be joining the cast of Animoji masks.

4. Automatically enter those pesky security codes

Two-factor authentication is great, except the annoying task of entering six-digital security codes sent to you via text feels like a chore. iOS 12 fixes this issue.

As soon as a security code is sent to your device as a text, it’ll automatically pop up within the suggested words in the keyboard interface. All you have to do is tap it. It makes life just a little easier when you’re locked out of Dropbox.

5. iOS 12 allows for more than one Face ID face

Face ID on iOS 12 supports more than one face within the Setting menu labeled ‘Face ID & Passcode.’ Look for the ‘Set up an Alternative Appearance’ sub-menu to add a second look.

This is helpful for two reasons: You can either allow a partner to have access to your iPhone or iPad with Face ID, or you can add your alter ego to make sure Face ID unlocks your phone no matter what you look like today, tomorrow or the next day.

6. Siri Shortcuts can find your lost keys, more

  • Siri Shortcuts allows you to assign phrases to tasks
  • ‘I lost my keys’ can ring your Tile tracker to find keys
  • ‘Heading home’ sends ETA notification to roommate, sets thermostat and fan, and brings up the fastest route via Apple Maps
  • Gallery and library full of pre-configured Siri Shortcuts

Siri is smarter. If you set up Siri Shortcuts, a brand new app, It‘ll know that “I lost my keys” means to ring your Tile tracker. 

Sure, Tile is a handy gadget, but getting to the slow app is a pain when you’ve lost your keys. An integrated Siri is a game-changer for both Tile and our peace of mind.

Siri Shortcuts go far beyond this example. Apple allows for all sorts of formulas. The app can suggests coffee orders from the place you always order from, and nudge you to message contacts to tell them you’re running late. 

There’s also Kayak-based flight information you can call up via voice. By pressing the add to Siri button, you can then say “Travel plans” and Siri will read back information such as your hotel address.

Apple’s IFTTT-like Siri Shortcuts app launched alongside the final iOS 12 software. However, not all shortcuts will be found in the new app. Some companies, like the aforementioned Tile, will host shortcuts within their own app, so look out for that.

7. Group FaceTime (now launching later)

  • Group FaceTime for up to 32 people with dynamic UI
  • Can use Animoji and Memoji in FaceTime
  • Won’t launch with the final software on day one

Group FaceTime is coming to iOS 12 with up to 32 participants, and you go directly from a group chat to a group FaceTime in the Messages app.

Update: Apple has delayed the launch of iOS 12 Group Notifications, according to release notes indicating that it’ll come out this ‘fall’. To us, that sounds like an iOS 12.1 launch – like Apple Pay, Apple Cash, AirPlay 2 and other features didn’t make it live on day one in previous operating system updates.

People can drop in and drop out at any time. The interface is filled with tiles that can expand, and ‘the roster’ along the bottom for everyone else in the Group FaceTime chat. When people start to speak, their window gets bigger, even if they’re in the bottom roster of participants. It works on iPhone, iPad and Mac, and you can even answer on the Apple Watch and HomePod with just audio.

Animoji is coming to FaceTime and Group FaceTime. You’ll of course need to update to iOS 12 and an iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max or an iPhone XR to make that magic happen.

8. Screen time – using your iPhone less

  • Reports give a weekly activity summary on how you use iOS 12
  • Breakdown: ranks app usage, highest phone pick up times (and what app draws you in first), and apps that send you the most notifications
  • Set self-imposed time limits via reminders and temporary app blocking
  • Limit kids time in apps by category or individual apps via Family Sharing

Screen time is Apple’s way of limiting your iPhone usage – calculating how much time you’re spending on apps, which apps you use the most, and which apps are sending you the most notifications. Screen time doesn’t lie.

For those without self-control, Apple has created app limits. You can set your own limit, with a notification letting you know when time is almost up. A ‘Time is up’ message will display when you’ve reached your self-imposed-Siri-assisted limit.

Parents can create limits for kids with Allowances, time-of-day-based downtime controls, and category controls. Education and essential message apps can also be greenlit thanks to an always-allowed settings. 

The best part? Setting limits for your kids uses Family Sharing, so you can manage it all remotely from your parental device – no need to get hold of your 12-year-old kid’s phone to execute on these new iOS 12 controls.

9. Do Not Disturb goes visual in iOS 12

  • Do Not Disturb during bedtime to hide visual display of notifications
  • It offers a clean lock screen with only a reminder than DND mode is on

Apple has expanding its Do Not Disturb capabilities with a cleaner ‘Do Not Disturb During Bedtime’ mode. It’ll silence not just the notification delivery sounds, but also the visual notifications clutter that can distract you when you’re trying to sleep.

The lock screen remains clear until you unlock your iPhone in the morning. You can allow certain apps to break through, just like with DND mode right now. Apple refers to these as critical alerts, and they’re opt-in.

We really like the solo DND notification hanging out on the lock screen. It’s peaceful without distracting visual clutter at night and it reminds us that DND mode is on. All notched iPhones don’t have the DND icon at the top, so it was always hard to tell before iOS 12.

10. Instant Tuning for axing notifications

  • Instant Tuning to send future notifications silently or turn them off
  • Siri can suggest which notifications to silence based on usage

Instant Tuning is an iOS 12 feature you’ll love if you’ve ever gotten a notification from an app you always seem to dismiss (HQ trivia, breaking news alerts, etc), but don’t have time to turn off future notifications in the many submenus of Settings. Apple is allowing you to control individual app notification profiles right from the lockscreen, without making you leave what you’re doing.

Deliver Quietly is an option within Instant Tuning, and it’ll allow you to choose to have notifications delivered silently Notification Center by default so you’re not interrupted by alerts on the lockscreen. It’s a nice in between option.

Siri helps clean up your messy lock screen with notification delivery suggestions based on how you interact with notifications. Siri will understand which notifications it should deliver prominently and which ones to send to Notification Center. It’s like iOS 12’s version of ‘clean up your desktop’ system nudges.

11. New ‘Measure’ app and USDZ file format

  • New USDZ file type dedicated at augmented reality
  • Measure app replaces your old-fashioned measuring tape

‘Measure’ is getting its own AR app. It uses the iPhone’s and iPad’s sensors to measure objects in front of you, including suitcases, as shown in the first iOS 12 demo. All it takes it just tap-and-drag along the edges of the object on the screen. 

It also automatically detects the approximate dimensions of a photo – we’ve used it to buy a photo frame when we couldn’t find the old-fashioned tape measure. iOS 12 to the rescue.

For AR developers, Apple has created a new file type called ‘USDZ.’ The company worked on USDZ with Pixar, and Adobe is supporting it, too. The file format can be shared across FIles, Mail, Messages and Safari. This is an important step forward for developers working on AR apps.

12. Apple News, Stocks, Voice Memos and CarPlay

  • Apple News: new Browse tab and sidebar navigation
  • Stocks: robust chart design and stock news integration
  • Voice memos: easier menus, iCloud support, on iPad (finally)
  • CarPlay: third-party app support, like Google News and Waze

Apps are indeed getting updates with iOS 12, starting with Apple News. There’s a new Browse tab and a sidebar for better navigation. Stocks is finally being rebuilt with a helpful news design, complete with charts and Apple news headline integrated into into stocks. The top stories will be business news curated by Apple News editors.

Voice Memos has come to iPad (as well as macOS), and it’ll get iCloud support, long overdue changes. Now you won’t have to AirDrop conversations between devices in order to listen back. It’ll also be easier to assign names to voice clips thanks to an overhauled Voice Memos redesign.

Apple Books is the new name for iBooks, allowing you to pick up reading where you left off and a new store interface to browse buy ebooks and audio books.

CarPlay now support third-party applications, with Waze and Google Maps appearing on-screen. Apple didn’t call out the Google-owned apps by name, but they were there on the screen. This was a major highlight of iOS 12.

13. Some NFC features work even with a dead battery

Apple delivers a clever trick with NFC, allowing you to use a metro pass or student ID in the Wallet app, even if your iPhone has a depleted battery.

Express Cards with power reserve ensures you’re not stranded outside of a train station or a dorm room because there’s still some low-level power in your phone. This is one of our biggest fears for users who routinely rly on NFC. 

Apple solves this, and though there’s not enough power to give you visual feedback, when you touch your dead iPhone to an NFC-equipped terminal and you’ll get a haptic response. And like magic, it works.

Just don’t expect this new feature to work with Apple Pay. That requires Face ID, so you’re going to have to possess a powered-on smartphone for that to work. 

14. Closing apps in multitasking mode is easier

For 12 and 13, iOS 12 fixes some irksome features we hated about iOS 11. They’re the kind of problems only first-year iPhone X users will know about.

Closing open app windows in iOS 12 is easier. All you have to do is slide up on an open app to dismiss it from the multitasking menu. iOS 11 had us press down on the app until a bunch of red close icons appeared over top of each app, and then to tap those little red icons to dismiss the app. That was unpleasant.

15. Accidental screenshots are less common

Whenever we picked up our iPhone X, we’d always press the volume up and power button accidentally, which is the new ‘take a screenshot’ button combination on iPhone X. Apple has disabled this action whenever the phone screen is off. Our iOS 12 Photos app is no longer going to be filled with errant screenshots on the daily.

16. ARKit 2 and multiplayer gaming

  • ARKit 2 allows for ‘shared experiences’ for AR multiplayer
  • Lego, Fender, Adobe and Pixar are all working on AR with Apple

iOS 12 cements Apple as a leader in augmented reality (AR) with the arrival of groundbreaking multiplayer capabilities it calls Shared Experiences in ARKit 2.

These multi-user virtual environments allow for multiplayer gaming and experiences through iPhones and iPads. iOS 12 creates a more collaborative (and competitive) way of experiencing AR. 

Lego demoed a four-player game at WWDC in June, pledging that it was in when it came to Apple’s “creative play possibilities.” Players were involved in building up an AR town. It was like The Sims was reimagined for the future.

ARKit 2 opens up AR to hundreds of millions of users, according to Apple, and that makes iOS 12 the broadest AR platform in the world. We got a taste of AR last year, but multi-user virtual environments bring more advanced tools and gameplay.

17. Camera app changes

Smart DHR is reserved for the A12 chip-equipped iPhone XS and iPhone XR phones, but iOS 12 also tweaks the default camera app on older devices with new tricks.

First, the Portrait Lighting mode (on newer iPhones with dual-lens cameras) looks more natural. The software will be able to define crisper edges by more effectively separating a person from a background scene. Apple is also allowing third-party apps to use the software to separate the foreground and background.

Second, it’s the end of an era for our how to scan a QR code from your iPhone and iPad guide. The default camera in iOS 12 makes QR code reading automatic.

Third, while not part of the camera app, RAW photos can be imported and managed on an iPhone and iPad, with the bonus ability of editing RAW photos on an iPad Pro.

18. Photos app is now smarter with iOS 12

  • Betters search and a new ‘For you’ tab
  • Suggestions on who to share photo collections with
  • Share back suggestions nudge friends to send their photos

The Photos app expands its search capabilities in an effort to compete with Google Photos. It recognizes photos by event now and indexes them accordingly. Apple says it takes into account over four million events, citing the Aspen Ideas Festival as a very niche example. 

This lets you search by event without any thankless manual tagging. Searching by event joins other smart suggestions, including filtering by people, places, and relative dates (searching via Siri works with all of these and is quite handy in our experience). 

The iOS 12 Photos search capabilities have also been broadened to let you use multiple search terms at once. Seeking “dog, animal” should weed out all of your gourmet hotdog results (this is a real problem we just tested at TechRadar).

A new tab ‘For you’ is a part of the iOS 12 Photos app, and it’s filled with personalized suggestions on how to improve and share your pictures. Sharing has gotten smarter, letting you share at full-resolution and suggesting who to share these photos with.

Share back suggestions is a neat feature that lets you send photos to a friend, and it uses machine learning to poke them to send photos they took to you. Bonus: iOS 12’s photo sharing features uses iMessage’s end-to-end encryption.

19. iPad switches to iPhone-like gestures

It’s confusing owning both an iPad and a new iPhone X right now because returning to the home screen and opening Control Center are executed by different gestures.

The iPad takes cues from the iPhone X with the iOS 12 update: swipe up from the bottom to return home and check Control Center by pulling down from the top right-hand corner.

This may be a prelude to the iPad Pro 2018 that’s rumored to include Apple’s TrueDepth camera for Face ID, Animoji, and Memoji.

20. Siri translates new languages, learns motorsport scores

  • Siri can now translate over 40 language pairs
  • Motorsports scores, schedules and stats knowledge
  • Food and celebrity facts knowledge expanded upon
  • Password search now part of Siri’s duties in iOS 12

Try asking Siri to translate something into Spanish. It works, and with iOS 12 it’ll be even more robust with over 40 language pairs to aid your international travels.

So far, Siri will translate English (US) into Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Spanish. We really hope Siri will be able to translate foreign words into English. That may have to wait for iOS 13.

Siri will also learn the language of motorsports, per se. Asking for Formula One and NASCAR information will have Siri recite live standings, schedule, roster and stat info.

Food knowledge and celebrity facts are also part the Siri update. Right now, asking “How healthy is fish” gives a smatter of search results and requires opening up Siri. In the future, a specific answers about food will come from the USDA database, citing calories, vitamins, and how healthy the food is overall.

Password hunting is now within Siri’s grasp, letting you search any saved passwords, according to Apple. This applies to both apps and websites.

21. Pinpoints 911 calls in the US

You won’t have to worry about reciting your exact location when calling 911 in the US thanks to iOS 12. It’ll pinpoint your whereabouts during emergency calls.

Apple says it’ll “automatically and securely” share your iPhone location with first responders, but only with them and only during such emergencies. It’s an effort to reduce response time, yet maintain your privacy.

22. iOS 12 compatibility

  • Compatible with iPhone 5S, iPad mini 2 and iPad Air and newer
  • 11 iPhones, 10 iPads, 1 iPod touch – the broadest iOS update yet 

iOS 12 will run on all devices that have its 64-bit chipset. It’ll work on the iPhone 5S and newer, while the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 are the oldest iPads that are compatible with iOS 12. 

That’s means this update is supporting 11 different iPhones, 10 different iPads, and the sole iPod touch 6th generation, still clinging to life. It’s the broadest support for a software update Apple has ever offered, and this is one of the biggest advantages Apple has over Android phones.

23. Weather app warns unhealthy air quality

Apple’s official weather app contains new messaging that indicates air quality in cities. This is where Sunny, Cloudy, and Partly Cloudy messaging usually sits. iOS 12 puts it in a spot where you’ll see it more regularly, as opposed to a separate air quality app.

The forecast New York City as of writing this, for example, tells us that the area has ‘Unhealthy Air Quality for Sensitive Groups’. People with asthma therefore may want to stay indoors.

When did iOS 12 launch?

  • June 4 – Developer beta launched (to paid Apple Developers)
  • June 25 – iOS 12 public beta launched (it’s free)
  • September 17 – the final iOS 12 software (still free)

iOS 12 released on Monday, September 17 following the iPhone XS launch event, where Apple announced the official launch date. You can now download it.

There were actually three phases to the iOS 12 launch: one for developers, one for public beta testers, and one final version launching in mid-September.

First, the developer beta launched at WWDC and got more frequent refreshes, but it was early software. You have to be a registered Apple developer, which costs $99 for the annual membership. It’s for people who like to tinker with Xcode and make apps.

Second, iOS 12 public beta launched on June 25 and was completely free. It was less problematic than the developer beta. The downside? It was always one step behind what the developers have access to.

Third, the final software, meant for everyone, launched on September 17. There’s no need to jump through hoops to enroll in a beta. iOS 12 is now here in its final form, right in time for the iPhone XS release date.

That’s a wrap for new iOS 12 features. 

The two biggest highlights were Grouped notifications and Group FaceTime with Memoji. Of course, Group FaceTime is not due to launch just yet, which means an inevitable iOS 12.1 and more updates for us to write about.

Reputation in the era of phishing and Facebook

Rarely out of the spotlight these days, Facebook’s most recent scandal saw information on 30 million users stolen at the hands of hackers. With public opinion of Facebook continuing to flux, we took the opportunity to poll businesses at the IP Expo earlier this month on the state of their cyber defences in the wake of this latest high profile attack.

When we last spoke to the tech industry, at Cloud Expo earlier this year, it was on the heels of the news that millions of Facebook profiles had been exploited for political purposes. 

  • We’ve also highlighted the best antivirus

Back then, trust in Facebook was understandably shaken, with more than 50% stating that they trusted the social media juggernaut less following its involvement with Cambridge Analytica. Our recent findings at IP Expo echoed this, with 41% going as far to say that they didn’t trust Facebook even before this latest story. This is all having a positive impact on individual security awareness, however, with 28% claiming to have amended their security settings since these breaking stories.

It’s encouraging, then, to see users become increasingly wary of how they use Facebook in their personal lives, but what effect has this had on businesses?

A tale of caution

For all that we’re still unsure of following the recent Facebook hack, we do know that information on at least 30 million accounts was stolen (versus the originally reported 50 million), and that the attackers had total access to a trove of personal information including usernames, email addresses and phone numbers.

For over 14 million of the accounts, however, the hackers also acquired information on relationship statuses, work and education history, religious beliefs, current city, gender, device type, recent check ins and much more. With information on workplaces included in the stolen information, it would be foolish to argue that many organisations will now find themselves in the phishing firing line – a sentiment shared among those we spoke to at IP Expo. 

More than a third agreed that the hack meant that businesses were likely to become phishing targets, with just 20% of respondents believing it could instead alert businesses to predict such an attack and (hopefully) prepare themselves. 

That being said, businesses are clearly taking stock: one in four of the 200 businesses we polled believed they had both the technology and education needed to combat any potential phishing scams. 38%, meanwhile, were confident they had the technology in place but not the user education, while on the flip side 22% believed they were properly educated but didn’t have adequate technology in place. Encouragingly, only 7% had reason to panic, with neither the technology or education in place to protect them.

The ripple effect

So what does the future hold for Facebook, in both our consumer and business lives? Those who regularly use the social media platform but haven’t reviewed their security and sharing settings should do so immediately, particularly if, like many of us, they have other apps linked to their account that could be at risk of being compromised. 

On the business front, user education and raised awareness of criminal techniques is critical in defending against potential attacks. Those regularly implementing simulation and training programs will see improved security awareness among their users, utilising simulations to empower individuals with the baseline knowledge and confidence to identify subtle phishing attempts.

Of course human resilience can only go so far. Technology in the form of effective perimeter filtering, bespoke network architecture and other tools to identify malware within the network are also vital for a robust security strategy. Businesses would also be wise not to become complacent, ensuring they remain up to date with the latest software and security updates and developments in order to maintain a sophisticated security strategy. 

If the likes of Facebook and Google find themselves victims to cyber-attacks, any one of us could be next. Every breach, every news story and every attack proves that we need to become the gatekeepers of our most valued data.

Asaf Cidon, VP of Email Security at Barracuda Networks 

  • This is how Google stopped phishing attacks for good at its offices