Apple's iOS 12.1 code hints at new iPads coming in the fall

This guy might be getting replaced soon.
This guy might be getting replaced soon.
Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

Apple’s big September event came and went with no trace of new, highly-anticipated iPads. 

But the wait probably won’t be very long. 9to5Mac reports that a “2018 Fall iPad” has been referenced in iOS 12.1 code, which was released Tuesday. 

There are no details as to what this new iPad might be like. But fall likely means October (November is also a possibility, but Apple historically held two iPad events in October and none in November), so at least we sort-of know when it’s coming. 

As for what’s coming, nothing’s official yet, but there have been plenty of rumors describing a new iPad Pro with Face ID and no home button (check out the renders below).

According to Bloomberg, Apple is likely to launch at least two new iPad Pro devices, one with an 11-inch screen and one with a larger, 12.9-inch screen. And dependable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently said the new iPads will have a USB-C instead of Lightning connectors. 

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iOS 12 review: Finally, the fear of upgrading is over

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Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

iOS 12 is here and you should download it right now.
iOS 12 is here and you should download it right now.
Image: vicky leta/mashable

Lightning fast • even on older phones • A smarter Siri is compatible with more third-party apps • Password management’s never been easier • Notifications are finally grouped by app

Screen Time can be confusing to navigate • Shortcuts app isn’t for beginners • Memoji are kind of bland

The Bottom Line

iOS 12 may not have some of the big marquee features of previous years’ updates, but it still delivers massive improvements everywhere it counts most.

Mashable Score4.5
Cool Factor4.0
Learning Curve4.0
Performance5.0
Bang for the Buck5.0

Every year, when Apple releases a new version of iOS, the questions start. Friends, family, total strangers — it doesn’t matter who asks, the question is always the same: Should I download the latest version of iOS? 

They ask, not because they want my opinion on Apple’s latest software trick, but a separate, nagging concern: Won’t it slow down my phone? 

SEE ALSO: Here’s how to update your iPhone or iPad to iOS 12

No matter how many times I try to explain the importance of staying up to date with security patches, or the benefits of [insert new iOS feature] the perception is the same — that the new iOS update will muck up their phone (a perception certainly not helped by last year’s battery slowdown fiasco).

But iOS 12 is different. With the latest update, Apple put performance and stability first, and not just for its most recent hardware. The update, which is compatible back to the iPhone 5S, has also been optimized to run faster and more efficiently on older phones. So, yes, you can update to iOS 12 without slowing down your phone. In fact, if you have an older iPhone or iPad, it should actually make it faster (yes, really).

Performance first

Apple’s focus on performance isn’t just limited to older devices. There are numerous under-the-hood tweaks that make iOS 12 faster and smoother for everyone. In practice, this may not be immediately obvious as the result is that, well, everything works the way you expect it to. I’ve been using iOS 12 since the first day the developer beta was available, and it’s easily the least buggy iOS update I can remember.

This focus on reliability may not make for the most exciting features — earlier reports indicate Apple shelved some planned features in favor of focusing on performance — but it’s what will make the biggest difference to everyone who uses it. It’s also incredibly important for Apple, which needs to regain trust after a year that included Batterygate and the bug-riddled iOS 11 rollout. All that said, there are still plenty of new features that make iOS 12 worth your time. 

Siri catches up 

While even early iPhones felt like world-class smartphones, Siri hasn’t always measured up. There are lots of reasons for that (many of which Apple has addressed), but, for a long time, one of the biggest sticking points for Siri skeptics was that Apple’s assistant remained stubbornly closed off to third-party apps. 

That changed in 2016 with the arrival of SiriKit in iOS 10, but even that was a bit of a letdown because it was limited to specific categories, like transportation apps. Shortcuts aims to fill those gaps by allowing any app to be compatible with Siri.

Shortcuts let you automate certain tasks using custom Siri commands. You can find suggestions for things you may want to automate in the Siri section of the main Settings app, and you can record a voice command you want to trigger that action. The suggestions iOS provides will be based on your own habits and the apps you use, including third-party apps.

Custom Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12.

Custom Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12.

For example, you can set up a shortcut to start a new voice memo, or read you the latest headlines in your preferred news app. It’s up to individual developers to support the feature, so not all apps will support it on day one, but there’s already a lot you can do with it.

If you want to really nerd out, you can use the dedicated Shortcuts app, which is the redesigned and rebranded Workflow app that Apple acquired last year. One of the biggest issues with Workflow was that it was far too complicated for most people. Shortcuts addresses some of the usability issues with Workflow, but it’s still clearly meant for power users. 

The app uses a drag-and-drop interface to let you chain multiple tasks together into a single shortcut. For example, you could get Siri to automatically make GIFs out of your photos, or ask Siri to “start your day” and automatically call up directions to work and information about the first appointment on your calendar. 

It’s still not the most intuitive interface, but if you’re willing to spend a little time with it, you can get really creative. The app also provides a library of ready-made Shortcuts to make it easier to get started, and you can remix these to suit your needs. 

The Shortcuts app.

The Shortcuts app.

If all that sounds too complicated, there’s another way to use Siri Shortcuts with very little effort. Periodically, Siri will also automatically push suggested shortcuts to your lock screen and Spotlight Search. These can be simple, like suggesting you return a missed call, or more complex, such as suggesting you enable “Do Not Disturb” at a movie theatre. Siri can even push shortcuts from third-party apps (provided the developer has add support for Shortcuts). 

These suggestions are tailored to you based on your habits. Behind the scenes, Siri takes into account more than 100 different signals, such as the time of day and your current location, as well as how you typically use your phone, to build these recommendations. 

How often you actually see these suggestions will depend on a couple of factors. Some of it has to do with how predictable your behavior is, like if you tend to use certain apps at very specific times. The apps you frequently use also play a role. What you see from third-party apps will likely be more limited to start, as many developers have yet to update their apps to support Siri’s new capabilities, but will get more useful over time. 

Siri Shortcuts can appear on your lock screen.

Siri Shortcuts can appear on your lock screen.

On a more philosophical level, these types of suggestions are a significant step for Siri as it shows that Apple is finally doing more to make its assistant… well, more of an actual assistant. Last year, when I wrote my predictions for iOS in 2020, I predicted that “iOS will be able to take a much more active role in determining what apps and actions are put in front of you at any given moment.” Now, we’re starting to see the first signs of that actually being possible.

If you’ve spent the last few years mostly ignoring Siri, now is definitely the time to start rethinking that.

Find your limits

Apple doesn’t just want iOS 12 to be better for your phone, it wants it to be better for you, too. At least, that’s the premise behind Screen Time, a feature that lets you see just how much you’re using your phone and set some limits — if you have the willpower. 

The Screen Time feature itself is actually several different settings that boil down to two categories: a dashboard that feeds you stats on how much you use your phone, and various methods for limiting how much time you spend in apps. Before you start trying to set limits, it’s useful to take a peek at your dashboard. 

If you spend a lot of time on your phone, prepare to be horrified. I’ve been regularly checking my Screen Time stats for months now and, well, I might have a problem.

The (sort of) good news here is that you can actually do something about this. You can set limits on categories of apps you want to use less, like social media apps, or schedule downtime away from your phone altogether. In both cases, it’s relatively easy to ignore your self-imposed limits, though iOS suspends the app icons as a visual reminder that you’re not supposed to be using them.

My issue with Screen Time is that the controls don’t feel like they’ll actually do much to change behavior. In my case, I clearly spend too much time on Twitter, and get far too many email notifications. But it’s not immediately clear what I should actually do about that. Sure, I can adjust my notification settings or set app-limits, but it would be nice if Screen Time could actually provide personalized recommendations about settings to change, much like the way it provides suggestions to maximize your storage.

It's pretty easy to ignore your own self-imposed time limits in Screen Time.

It’s pretty easy to ignore your own self-imposed time limits in Screen Time.

It would also be helpful if it could contextualize your stats in some way. An average of 204 notifications a day sounds like a lot, but it’s hard to judge for yourself without something to weigh those numbers against.

My other issue with Screen Time is that app limits default to blocking entire entire categories of apps. Open the app limits menu and it greets you with a checklist of different categories, like social media or productivity apps. 

While this approach may work for some, I’d prefer if it was easier to limit specific apps one-by-one, rather than entire categories. Yes, there are workarounds to this: you can exempt specific apps from app limits, and there is a way to set limits on a per-app basis, but these are far from intuitive. 

Do Not Disturb has a lot more options now (available when you 3D Touch on the shortcut in Control Center).

Do Not Disturb has a lot more options now (available when you 3D Touch on the shortcut in Control Center).

One group I can see Screen Time making a big difference for is parents. While a lot of parental controls focus on the granular details — policing exactly what apps and websites are accessible, for example — Screen Time might be much more useful for parents worried about social media addiction. Because you’re able to set app-specific limits and set a schedule for when apps can and can’t be used (all protected with a separate, dedicated passcode) Screen Time could be a powerful tool for parents.

If you want to take a break without setting such granular limits, Apple’s also greatly improved Do Not Disturb. You can now opt to enable it for specific periods of times or tie Do Not Disturb to your current location, which could be particularly useful for when you’re heading into a movie theater or an important meeting. 

Stock apps get a makeover 

Many of Apple’s stock apps have also gotten some much needed attention. Books, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Apple News have been revamped. If you don’t already use these apps, the changes probably aren’t big enough to make you give them a second look, but if you do use them, you’ll appreciate the refresh.

Apple's new Stocks, Books, and Voice Memos apps.

Apple’s new Stocks, Books, and Voice Memos apps.

Apple also introduced an all-new utility app that uses augmented reality, called Measure

The app uses AR to help you measure objects. In my testing, it works pretty well with easy-to-define objects, like books, but sometimes struggles with things that have more of an unusual shape. I could see the app being useful if you need to take some quick off-the-cuff measurements, but I don’t think I’d feel comfortable using it for anything I needed a precise measurement for. 

Two of Apple’s apps that are likely to get the most attention are Messages and FaceTime. Messages is mostly unchanged from last year, though there’s a new Photos app for sharing images in Messages. The new star of Messages, though, is Memoji.

Sort of like Apple’s answer to Snapchat’s wildly popular Bitmoji, Memoji’s custom avatars are like the next step up from Animoji. I feel the same way about Memoji as I do Animoji. It’s entertaining the first few times you use it, and it’s great for demonstrating the power of the TrueDepth camera, but it still feels like a bit of a gimmick.

Making a Memoji is fun, but they all have the same bland look.

Making a Memoji is fun, but they all have the same bland look.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun creating my own avatar, and attempting to make approximations of friends and family, but that’s the problem: Memoji just don’t feel that personal. There just aren’t enough customization options to make them feel truly unique. 

Speaking of fun, FaceTime also got some seemingly Snapchat-inspired features. You can use a bunch of new effects, like filters and stickers, or overlay Memoji and Animoji onto your own face while in a call. The much touted group-calling feature isn’t yet available, but it will finally bring FaceTime up to scratch with pretty much every other video chat app.

There’s more. Notifications are finally, finally, finally grouped by app, much like they are on Android. It’s a small change — and one, frankly, we shouldn’t have had to wait until iOS 12 for — but it makes dealing with notifications significantly less painful.

Tuning notifications is a good way to adjust preferences on the fly.

Tuning notifications is a good way to adjust preferences on the fly.

There’s also a feature called “Instant Tuning,” which lets you adjust notification settings directly from the notification itself. You can change the app’s settings to “deliver quietly,” which allows the notification to surface in Notification Center, but nowhere else, or turn them off altogether.  

Passwords are even easier to manage. iOS can now automatically generate secure passwords and store them in your iCloud keychain. If you use a password manager, like OnePassword or LastPass, you can autofill passwords in apps and websites without having to manually open the app. And SMS verification codes are automatically pulled into your keyboard, so you don’t have to switch over to the Messages app to grab the code.

All of these are huge time-savers that make it even easier to use secure passwords on every service you use. 

Should you download?

If you made it this far, the question is likely still in the back of your mind. If it wasn’t clear already, the answer is yes. In previous years, the only excuse for holding off on downloading was because you were either worried about bugs or worried about slowing down an older device. 

But with this year’s emphasis on stability and speed, those excuses no longer hold water. In fact, the iOS 12 update should actually make your older iPhone or iPad noticeably faster while also giving you the latest Siri features and other improvements. 

So, go download without anxiety: iOS 12 is an update that makes your iPhone (and iPad) better everywhere it counts most.

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Is your inbox a mess? The Mailstrom app can help — and it's on sale.

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Don't let an avalanche of emails get you down.
Don’t let an avalanche of emails get you down.
Image: pexels

Managing your email account hasn’t gotten any easier in recent years, especially now that spam mailing lists have nearly become self-aware and all your personal and work messages have had roughly two decades to pile up. Luckily, Mailstrom is an app that can help you sort through thousands of emails instantly, bringing your Inbox back down to a reasonable size and keeping it that way.

Mailstrom is a mail management app that uses settings you define to sift through every message you’ve ever received and keep your organized. 

You can set Mailstrom to automatically block specific senders or even subjects from your Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook accounts to keep unwanted junk from ever passing in front of your eyes, and you can use its intuitive one-click Unsubscribe feature to instantly rid yourself of mailing lists you’re no longer interested in or never signed up for in the first place. Best of all, Mailstrom never keeps your password, so your privacy is never at risk.

Normally, a lifetime subscription to Mailstrom sells for $999.75, but right now Mashable readers can jump on a 93% markdown and get one for just $59.99 by clicking on the button below.

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Fatcow review: an affordable, no-frills web hosting experience

Disclosure

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

Image: vicky leta/mashable
Fatcow Web Hosting
$14.95 a month (starting)

Full access to FTP and storage • Affordable pricing across plans • Proprietary website builder is easy to use

Frequently up-sells you on features • Not a clean WordPress install • Install times can be long

The Bottom Line

Since Fatcow has a small number of plans, most of which are attractive from a value perspective. With a domain name and unlimited storage, Original Fatcow is a good option for a beginner looking to launch his or her first site.

Mashable Score3.0
Cool Factor2.0
Learning Curve3.0
Performance3.0
Bang for the Buck4.0

There’s no shortage of web hosting providers to pick from, so choosing just one can be hard. When you start looking at all the services out there, affordability and reliability quickly become the most important factors. Web hosting service provider Fatcow tries to stand out with a small number of feature-packed affordable plans that make it easy to start a site.

The Fatcow website looks like something out of the early 2000s, but it manages to showcase its whole line of services in a clear way. Shared hosting, WordPress hosting, VPS (virtual private server), and Dedicated Servers are the extent of the offerings. In addition to the plans, Fatcow offers various add-ons — from marketing tools to enhanced backups.

The main ways I graded Fatcow as a web-hosting service is on pricing, the simplicity of its plans, and reliability.

Four plans to create a site

Fatcow only offers a limited amount of plans, but that isn't a bad thing.

Fatcow only offers a limited amount of plans, but that isn’t a bad thing.

Image: screenshot by jake krol/mashable

Original Fatcow is a shared hosting plan that costs $14.95 a month (it also regularly goes on sale for $4.08 a month, and was on sale at the time of publishing). It’s a shared hosting plan, so your site is hosted on a server with many other sites. This means that load times won’t always be the fastest, but the service is generally good enough for most basic websites. A website builder, FTP access, marketing program credits, and support for content management systems (CMS) are onboard, making it straightforward to get a site started.

Fatcow includes unlimited storage, bandwidth, and email accounts too. A domain of your choosing is included free for one year. The notion of unlimited storage, though, is found across most shared hosting plans — so don’t let that particular detail sway you either way.

It’s worth noting that if you end up having a website that violates the terms of service, like hosting torrents, it can lead to a cap on storage or a service suspension. 

The WordPress hosting plans are slightly modified, faster versions of the original plan. A custom control panel and automatic inclusion of core plug-ins generally improve the website management experience. W3 Total Cache and Jetpack by Automatic should help to speed up load times on the site. This comes in the WP Starter plan at $3.75 a month, while WP Essential includes solid-state storage drives for $6.95 a month. These drives make it easy to read or write data, which in turn delivers faster access to your site.

Rounding out the lineup is the Virtual Private Server (VPS) and Dedicated Server plans. These cost more at $24.99 and $149.99 a month respectively. You can choose the amount of RAM, storage, and bandwidth for your needs. For servers, Fatcow offers up a central processing unit (CPU) with up to four cores on either plan (the more cores, the faster the access). When your site grows too big for shared hosting, both of these are suitable upgrades. This gives the site a dedicated spot, but the addition of a personal bandwidth allotment makes the difference.

An almost too simple control panel

The Fatcow control panel user interface.

The Fatcow control panel user interface.

Image: screenshot by jake krol/mashable

Fatcow uses a proprietary control panel and back end for its hosting products. This is the gateway for accessing your storage disk, creating email accounts, and building the website. Interestingly enough, you can access all of the sections from drop-down menus or by scrolling down the page to see the icons laid out. For a novice user, the illustrations will help you figure out how to get things done.

In terms of first impressions, Fatcow makes it easy to access core tools. For instance, FTP (file transfer protocol) and FileManger are front and center for uploading your custom files or a particular CMS installation. It’s not a landmark feature to make this stuff easily accessible, and slow load times for processor-intensive tools sometimes leads to frustration. 

Advertisements for additional features get a whole box in the control panel.

Advertisements for additional features get a whole box in the control panel.

Image: JAKE KROL/MASHABLE

Adding to that frustration is the constant up-selling the Fatcow website hits you with for more features. There is an advertisement box on the right-hand side that cycles through different add-ons like Google’s productivity suite or a professional installer. It’s not only a distraction, but it makes you feel inundated. The ads also push down system settings and widgets lower on the page. And you can’t reorganize things to your liking.

Even with this constant push and inconvenient setup, in time, a Fatcow user can tune their muscle memory to the control panel.

Creating a website

The website tools section in the control panel provides an easy way to see what services can be one-click installed.

The website tools section in the control panel provides an easy way to see what services can be one-click installed.

Image: screenshot by JAKE KROL/MASHABLE

Choosing a hosting company and figuring out the control panel is only half the battle to making a site. The more crucial aspect is building the website itself. While Fatcow does provide a free website builder, I’d stay away from it.

The themes to choose from are fairly generic and only support minimal customizations. Thanks to a drag-and-drop user interface for adding content, even a beginner can figure this out. You can have the site set up in a few minutes, but this builder won’t help you grow a site in the long run.

The website builder houses a few basic themes to choose from.

The website builder houses a few basic themes to choose from.

Image: jake krol/mashable

The install time can be hit or miss. I tried it a couple of times and the median result was 15 minutes. It’s not the greatest, but for such a simple site it should happen a little faster.

Installing WordPress, Joomla, or another CMS is the wiser move. You can pick from an array of third parties to find the one that works for the type of site you want. WordPress has a plethora of free themes to choose from for a personal site or even a blog.

Rather than having a WordPress installer built in, Fatcow uses a third party (Mojo Marketplace) to complete the installation. If you’re comfortable doing the install by yourself, don’t bother reading Fatcow’s pro installer options. Just choose the URL you want to install WordPress on and follow the onscreen instructions. For me, it installed in 1:34.

Unlike other hosting companies, Fatcow doesn’t throw you into WordPress once the install is complete. Mojo will try to sell you themes and add-on services. Furthermore, this is not a clean version of WordPress. Several plug-ins that don’t provide any real features are pre-installed. It’s not all bad news, though; the template provides easy access to your control panel on the left-hand side, which is a nice touch.

Final thoughts

The Fatcow Original plan packs in all that’s needed for a beginner to launch a site. The price and a free domain make it an attractive offer. If you can look past the constant up-sells, I could see a personal or small-size blog being happy with the shared hosting service. 

If you’re planning to use WordPress, upgrade to the Essential Plan since the solid-state drives will help you with a better experience in the long run.

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Pre-order the new Apple Watch Series 4 at Walmart and be among the first to get bragging rights

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Pre-order the Apple Watch Series 4.
Pre-order the Apple Watch Series 4.
Image: RAYMOND WONG/MASHABLE

The new Apple Watch Series 4, which is now thinner and lighter than the previous model, hits shelves (both virtual and otherwise) on Friday, Sept. 21. And we’re here to remind you that there’s no need to wait in long lines for hours and hours. You can simply pre-order one (or two) and just have it shipped to you by the end of the weekend. Now isn’t that easier?

We’d recommend taking the plunge at Walmart, where you can get free 2-day shipping or may even be able to snag a discount on select models for picking it up in the store. The GPS and cellular versions of the Apple Watch 4, and its long awaited edge-to-edge display, are now available for pre-order with various colors and band options, such as a gold aluminum case with pink and white sports bands or a gold aluminum case with a pink sand sport loop. Unfortunately, space grey aluminum case and silver aluminum case (in both 40mm and 44mm) are out of stock temporarily. (Keep checking back though!)

For 2018, Apple ditched the ceramic and gold versions of the Apple Watch, opting to go with aluminum (40mm for $399 and 44mm for $429) and gold stainless steel (40mm for $699 and 44mm for $749) models instead. Each model also comes with optional cellular connectivity for an additional $100. The Apple Watch Series 4 is supported on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, U.S. Cellular, and Sprint in the United States. 

In addition, the new Apple Watch Series 4 features an all-new Digital Crown that is still used to scroll through apps, but now has an Electrocardiogram (ECG) feature that can detect if you’ve fallen. The smartwatch then can call for emergency assistance when you’re in need.

Image: Apple

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Grindr aims to stamp out discrimination on its platform with 'Kindr' initiative

Grindr is attempting to stamp out discrimination.
Grindr is attempting to stamp out discrimination.
Image: grindr

Grindr has long had a problem with discrimination.

It’s evidenced by profiles which are openly racist, with terms like “Black=block,” “no gaysians” or “no chocolate or rice” that are written in these bios.

Now the gay dating app is looking to stamp it out. It’s launched an initiative called Kindr, updating its community guidelines in a stand against racism, bullying, or other forms of toxic behaviour.

The biggest change to the guidelines is the banning of discriminatory language in these profile bios, and those who breach the new rules are subject to review by moderators.

Grindr has also launched a website featuring its diverse user base, along with a five-video series where users talk about the discriminatory comments that they’ve received on the platform.

“If you don’t put ‘no Asians’ in your profile that doesn’t mean you have to fuck Asians now, it just means I don’t have to see it,” comedian Joel Kim Booster, who appears in the campaign, explains.

“Sexual racism, transphobia, fat and femme shaming and further forms of othering such as stigmatization of HIV positive individuals are pervasive problems in the LGBTQ community,” Landen Zumwalt, head of communications at Grindr, said in a statement. 

“These community issues get brought onto our platform, and as a leader in the gay dating space, Grindr has a responsibility to not only protect our users, but also to set the standard for the broader community that we serve.”

It comes after a lawsuit was threatened against the company by Los Angeles user Sinakhone Keodara, who told NBC News the platform “allows blatant sexual racism by not monitoring or censoring anti-Asian and anti-black profiles.”

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YouTube will close YouTube Gaming, move it all to the main site

YouTube Gaming can now be found...on YouTube
YouTube Gaming can now be found…on YouTube
Image: YOUTUBE

YouTube Gaming is officially dead.

In a blog post today, YouTube announced that it’s dedicated YouTube Gaming app will soon cease to exist. The app will officially be retired In March 2019. 

But, don’t be mistaken. The shutdown of the YouTube Gaming app has more to do with the inability of the dedicated outlet to take off than anything concerning the success of video game livestreaming on YouTube. 

On the contrary, according to YouTube’s Global Head of Gaming, Ryan Wyatt, gaming is bigger than ever on YouTube. “50 billion hours of Gaming content watched on YouTube in the last 12 months and 200M daily logged-in users watch Gaming every single day on YouTube,” Wyatt said in a tweet.

Which is why it’s all not bad news. YouTube Gaming will live on as part of the main YouTube platform.

Back in 2014, Amazon spent nearly $1 billion on Twitch, the video game livestreaming platform. This move spurred YouTube to give gaming videos a harder look. This resulted in YouTube’s release of a separate YouTube Gaming app in 2015. Unfortunately, if anything, the dedicated app just made choosing between watching gaming content on there versus YouTube in general more confusing. 

YouTube Gaming will now live on the main site at “youtube.com/gaming.” It will also be featured on the left hand sidebar along with other sections of the website such as Trending and YouTube Premium. 

The Gaming page for YouTube, which is now live, features top livestreams, top videos, as well as the top games currently being livestreamed on the platform. The new YouTube Gaming section will also put a spotlight on new, rising creators every week in an effort to help the community grow. The first recommended gamer, called Gaming Creator on the Rise, has also already been unveiled with Erin Plays taking the first spot. Currently, YouTubers from the United States with over 1,000 subscribers are eligible.

The The YouTube Gaming app was often a testing ground for features, like Super Chat where users can pay to highlight their comment in the live chat feed, that later crossed over to the main YouTube platform. As YouTube points out on Twitter, there are a few YouTube Gaming features and settings, like Channel Memberships that are live on certain channels on the app but not on the main site, that still need to be ported over — hence the app lives until March of next year.

YouTube is clearly still struggling a bit to find its direction with one of the most popular categories on its site. YouTube may be the premiere online video destination for nearly every other niche, but they have extremely popular competitor out there in Twitch that specifically caters to gamers. YouTube needs to give gamers a reason to keep coming to them. While the reaction online to the changes seem to be mixed, it looks as if YouTube is taking the right steps to stay in the game.

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Vankyo’s Leisure 410 LED projector is bright, brilliant, and budget-friendly

When it comes to purchasing a projector for your home theater there’s usually only one important question for consumers: How much do you have to spend? Because, typically, inexpensive projectors don’t perform well. The idea of, let’s say, a $99 projector that’s bright, clear, and capable of working even in broad daylight seems pretty stupendous.

Meet the stupendous Vankyo Leisure 410 LED projector.

Credit: Nicole Gray

I got my hands on a review unit about a month ago and haven’t looked back since. No, it’s not going to drop your jaw and make you eschew traditional TVs – we’re talking about a 720p projector that costs less than many projection screens. Hell, I’ve got audio cables that cost more than this thing. But it works better than you might expect.

First up, it’s a beautiful gadget. The unit I reviewed was an off-white color with gray accents and sides. It reminds me of another gorgeous piece of tech:

But, beyond its looks – which I found it shares with a few other projectors, something common with Eastern tech products – it’s actually a modest beamer that borders on good. And it compares well to other projectors I’ve used in the sub-$300 range.

Specs:

  • Display Colors: 16.7M
  • Keystone: ±15 degree
  • Lamp life: 40000 hrs
  • Contrast: 2000:1
  • Native Resolution: 800 X 480
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:316:9auto
  • Projection size: 33 – 170 inches
  • Built-in speaker
  • Adjustable height / Tripod mount

So, this thing projects a huge image. Vankyo was nice enough to include a fantastic 100-inch projector screen with the review unit and the Leisure 410 has absolutely no problem filling it up. At about 3 meters away (about twice the reccomended optimum projection distance) it still managed to fill up the entire screen with a crisp bright image.

The Vankyo projector screen, by the way, might be the bigger steal here at $27.99. It’s incredibly high-quality and robust enough that if you left it outside in the rain you could just clean it off, dry it up, and use it again. And that’s what’s cool about it: Coupled with the Vankyo projector you can have movie night outside for less than $150 bucks. Inside the house, you can hang it with temporary hooks (or just strap it to a curtain rod like I did). It’s brilliant, but the best part is that it’s not necessary.

You don’t need a fancy screen or a perfectly white wall in a pitch-black room to use this projector. The 410 is rated (per Vankyo’s literature) at 2500 lumens, which is quite bright. That means you can project on just about any semi-flat surface.

I watched an episode of “Penn and Teller’s BS” projected on dark brown wood paneling that had black vertical lines running from floor to ceiling every few inches – and it was actually watchable. If you’ve got a white wall, a light colored sheet, or just access to some poster board, you’ve got yourself a DIY screen that’ll work fine with this projector.

And this thing is easy to use — techies won’t need a manual, and novice users should be able to muddle through all its capabilities without having to call the Geek Squad. For less than a $100 you’re not getting WiFi or Bluetooth, but you do get an internal speaker that isn’t awful, and a remote control that’ll control all the functions you need. Plus, it’s quiet. It has two fans that help it keep cool, but they won’t bug you during movie time unless your incredibly sensitive to background noise.

There really isn’t anything to quibble about with this device. Sure, you can get better projectors with more features, but probably not for the same price.

Both the Leisure 410 and the Vankyo projector screen I tested come with clever little carrying cases that make it as portable as your ability to find somewhere to plug it in. I found myself moving this thing all over my house, taking it outside, and even watching romantic videos projected on the ceiling above my bed with my fiancee.

It’s perfect for basements, bedrooms, and parties – and if you get drunk and break it you won’t have to sell your car to replace it. The three year warranty boasting a 100% money back guarantee doesn’t hurt either.

I highly recommend this for anyone who wants a projector, but doesn’t want to spend big bucks on one. And it’s ease of use and relatively low cost make it a great projector for parents of small children.

Published September 18, 2018 — 21:51 UTC

Price
$
99.99

ProductLeisure 410 LED Projector by Vankyo

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Google, Microsoft, and Amazon drool over Chinese AI market while Apple woos Trump

The US and Chinese governments have spent the last year setting the table for a trade war, but don’t tell big tech.

Apple’s looking pretty smug now that President Trump’s agreed to relax some of the impending tariffs on Chinese goods – specifically those that would have made it more expensive to manufacture items like the Apple Watch.

This is certainly a feather in the cap of CEO Tim Cook after he dined with the President and First Lady last month. It appears that Cook is employing the “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” strategy to best protect the interests of Apple’s board. Trump uses a similar strategy with polarizing political leaders such as Vladmir Putin, Kim Jong Un, and Rodrigo Duterte.

Meanwhile, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon showed off their AI products this week at the Chinese state-sponsored World Artificial Intelligence Conference, in Shanghai, hoping to woo the Chinese government into opening up its glorious data coffers.

China’s state-sponsored AI program is well on track to gathering the largest shared datasets on the planet. Having access to these amazing pools of data would instantly buff any AI company’s ability to train neural networks. But, it’s probably not just the Chinese data pool that beckons some of the richest companies on the planet.

Data may be the lifeblood of artificial intelligence, but capitalism is powered by cold hard cash. China represents one of the largest market segments on the planet. That’s why, on Monday, Microsoft and Amazon both announced plans to build AI offices in Shanghai.

Google, for its part, is still stinging from internal conflict and media scrutiny over its bungled attempt to keep the development of a censorship engine for the Chinese government secret.

In our analysis, it looks like Apple’s strategy is to ride out Trump’s mercurial approach to international trade while the rest of big tech pretends the Chinese government doesn’t use AI to engage in what some experts consider to be egregious civil rights violations.

If you’re not concerned about the Chinese government making sweetheart deals with US AI companies, or how Apple became the first company worth a trillion dollars by exploiting US tax law and politics, then now’s probably a good time to pad your portfolio with big tech stocks.

Disclaimer: You probably shouldn’t take financial advice from a technology journalist.

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Best photo editing software for your desktop computer or laptop

Whether you’re focused mainly on organization or deep editing features, we have the tools for you.
Disclosure

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

The history of photo manipulation dates back over 200 years when photographers would scratch, scrape, paint, cut, and paste their way to a pleasing (often humorous) result. 

What was once a physical skill possessed by a select few, photo retouching has since become much more accessible thanks to the latest technological advancements. 

There’s the infamous Adobe Photoshop, one of the most recognizable pieces of software on the planet – so familiar that it has become a verb. There’s Apple Photos, a free, hidden post-processing gem hardwired into MacBooks, and so many others in between.

So whether you’re a photo pro or just doing it for the ‘gram, if you want to take your captures to the next level, there are numerous computer software options out there for your to take advantage of — and we’ve found the best of them. 

For this roundup, we took into account features, usability, and cost to make sure all your photo editing needs are met. Here are our picks:


Gives you access across all your devices • Easy to use interface • Organizes your photos for you

Doesn’t come with as many editing tools

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an affordable cloud storage and organization system with some editing features, Lightroom CC could be your best choice.

1. Adobe Lightroom CC

Adobe’s latest photo storage and editing product is easy to use and intuitive.

  • Price:
    Plans start at $9.99/month
What photo enthusiast doesn’t like a one-stop photo shop? The most recent addition to the Adobe family gives you access to all your original high-resolution images across all your devices. 
The all-new Lightroom CC represents Adobe’s shift from traditional catalog storage to an intuitive cloud-based system. The interface itself feels less like a high-tech software system and more like a simple smartphone app, only enhanced for your desktop. It creates a single catalog of all your photos without the need to rename them or input fancy keywords. Just drag and drop your pictures and Lightroom CC organizes them and auto-attaches searchable keywords so you can find your photos in a snap. 
You can edit your photos directly from the software using creative presets or you can make selective adjustments if you prefer. The software features adjustments for light, color, fine details, and optics.
Lightroom does, however, lack some of the individual editing controls like curve adjustments and complex colors that Photoshop enthusiasts love, but for $19.99 per month you can get the Creative Cloud bundle that includes Lightroom CC, one terabyte of cloud storage, Lightroom Classic (the original version that professionals love), and Photoshop CC for a more in-depth photo enhancing experience. 


Automatically sorts your photos for you • Chooses the best shot for you to edit from a series • Lets you isolate a photo subject from background

Not as many deep features for pros

The Bottom Line

If you’re an entry-level photo editor, Photoshop Elements could be all you need.

2. Adobe Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements’ latest update not only helps you edit your photos, but it also organizes them for you using built-in content intelligence.

  • Price:
    $69.99
We take more photos than ever, and for the past ten years Photoshop Elements has made photo editing easy for entry-level snappers. Photoshop Elements‘ latest 2018 update not only helps you edit your photos to their best potential, but it also organizes them all for you using built-in content intelligence. The AI analyzes your photos and gives you options to correct them using just a few clicks. 
The software automatically sorts your photos by date, subject, people, and places. By attaching smart tags, photos of common subjects like birthdays, sunsets and landmarks, become easy to find without having to do any of the organizing work yourself. There’s even a feature that cuts down on editing time by automatically choosing the best shot for you to edit based on image quality, faces, and subjects.
If you’re familiar with how difficult it can sometimes be to isolate a specific subject in a photo using Photoshop, the new update makes it way easier. Just drag a box around the subject (or multiple subjects), and the software will isolate it for you, then you can fine-tune the edges if needed.
If you’re a newbie, the latest update is an ideal choice because it comes with 49 guided elements features that show you how to edit your photos step-by-step. And of course, you can always add your own personal touch. 


Lots of retouching features • including body shaping • Affordable

No geotag maps • Not as many features as Photoshop

The Bottom Line

If you’re all about retouching, Cyberlink could be the tool you’re looking for.

The CyberLink software offers useful everyday photo-editing tools and an interface that’s split into six modules. There’s the Library module to import, mark, and prepare photos for editing, but all the magic happens in the Adjustment module. It gives you tools to crop, straighten, and adjust tonality. There’s a spot remover tool for blemishes and an adjustment brush to isolate areas you want to alter. Add a gradient mask, saturate or desaturate, and adjust color temperature. If retouching and skin smoothing tools is what you’re after then the Edit allows you to do just that, along with a cool body shaping feature.
Similarly to Photoshop, it has content-aware object selection tools, and you can use the Layers module to blend multiple photos together. Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, you have the option of creating a slideshow before exporting them. PC Magazine called it “an affordable tool that gives Adobe a run for its money.”


Automatically adjusts photos for you

Pricey • Doesn’t organize photos • Not much editing flexibility

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for software that does the work for you, PhotoLab could be worth the price tag.

4. DxO PhotoLab

What makes Photolab so unique is that it automatically finds the faults with your photographs based on the type of camera and lens and makes adjustments.

  • Price:
    $129
If you want clean, high quality, no-frills photo editing software then take a shot at this one. 
What makes DxO PhotoLab (formerly Optics Pro 11) so unique is that it automatically finds the faults with your photographs based on the type of camera and lens you use and it makes adjustments, without you having to do a thing. 
The user interface looks similar to Lightroom, and in fact, it works as an excellent plug-in for your Adobe Lightroom workflow since DxO doesn’t offer as much editing flexibility.  
There are no brush tools, but the Customize mode can be used to make primary adjustments to  contrast, color, and exposure if the automatic enhancements miss the mark. The software doesn’t help with organizing photos, but you can export them directly to other photo applications like Facebook and Flickr once you’re satisfied with the edit. You can also export them to Photoshop or Lightroom to continue working if you wish.


Free • Offers video editing as well

Not as many features as paid options

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for simple photo and video editing, this could be your best bet. And it’s free!

5. Microsoft Photos

If you want simple photo and video tuning, this free option may be the right choice for you.

  • Price:
    Free
Microsoft Photos is a free, media creation toolbox and you may already have it, since it’s included in Windows 10 computers and replaces the Windows Photo Gallery app.
The application is helpful for adjusting saturation, contrast, highlights, and shadows. It also comes with 15 preset filters that work well for scenery shots. You can change the strength of each of the enhancements with a slider and make skin corrections using blemish removal tools. 
It also comes with video editing software that allows you to trim videos and add background music. You can add filters to your vids, but unlike with photos, the video filters aren’t adjustable. The same type of software can cost you $69 for Adobe Premiere, though you will get more advanced video editing options. If you want simple photo and video tuning, this free option may be the right choice for you


Organizes photos by date • Offers basic photo editing

Not as many features as paid options

The Bottom Line

If you use a Mac and have basic needs, Apple Photos could be all you need.

6. Apple Photos

If you just need the basics, this free option could be all you need.

  • Price :
    Free
Pull the best out of the pics you take with Apple Photos, the MacBook upgrade of iPhoto. The app recognizes raw camera files and also groups all your pictures by date. You can zoom in to a specific day or zoom out to display months or years worth of photos in what the app organizes as Moments. When you click Edit at the top of the software, Adjust, Filters, and Crop menus appear so you can enhance your photos. 
The adjust tab opens up a world of editing opportunities. It allows you to control the brightness of your images, exposure, highlights, shadows, and black point – just as you can on iOS smartphones. You can also sharpen photo details and adjust noise. The Filters come with Warm and Cool options but aren’t nearly as customizable as the ones that come with Photoshop Elements. 

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