Arlo Essential Indoor Camera review: Keeping an eye on indoors

(Pocket-lint) – Arlo has a wide range of cameras, but is mostly known for its battery-powered outdoor cameras.

The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera, however, is a wired camera designed to sit indoors, sitting in the same sort of position as the ageing Arlo Q.


  • Dimensions: 52 x 49 x 113.19mm
  • Privacy Shield shutter
  • Wired design

With no battery, the design of the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera is different to most of the rest of the Arlo range, because it’s not as deep, although the “face” of the camera is very much the same size as the rest of the family.

Rather than having a magnetic mount like other Arlo models, it sits on a stand with a ball mount, so you just have to take it out of the box, connect it to the power – and that’s just about it. If you want to wall-mount it, there’s a plate you can attach to the wall that the stand will clip into.


As a wired unit, there’s a power supply in the box with 2m cable, although this is a USB cable so you could potentially power this device without that plug if you have built-in USB ports in your sockets or elsewhere.

One criticism is that the cable is rather stiff, so once you’ve placed your camera, you’ll need to make sure the cable doesn’t then move the camera out of position. It could so with a softer cable cover that’s more malleable. 

The big thing that stands the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera aside from some other cameras is the Privacy Shield. This is a physical plate that covers the lens, so when the camera is off, there’s a 100 per cent guarantee that it’s not watching you.

Just glancing at the front of the camera will show whether the white Privacy Shield is open or closed, adding extra peace of mind for those who feel uncomfortable having a lens pointing at them.


If you’re one of those people who will connect the camera to Alexa or Google Assistant, you’ll know as soon as someone asks to view the camera, because the Privacy Shield will have to open, which you can see and hear.

There’s also an LED on the front, with the colour showing the status of the camera: blue means everything is fine, amber shows that there’s a connection problem. You can turn the LED off in the app if you want.

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Connectivity and setup

  • Wi-Fi (2.4GHz only) or SmartHub connection
  • Needs the Arlo app

The Essential name in this device lets you know that it will connect directly to your Wi-Fi. As per the Arlo Q previously, this is a device that works perfectly well as a standalone camera, so if you’ve never used an Arlo device before that doesn’t matter. You can also add this camera to an existing Arlo system, of course, and if you have an Arlo hub then you can connect directly to the hub too. The choice is yours, providing some flexibility.


You will need the Arlo app on your phone, however, but once you start the setup process you’ll be guided through everything to get it working. The app controls the whole experience: you’ll be able to control what the Indoor Camera captures and when, giving you a full range of controls.

Unlike other cameras this Arlo’s Privacy Shield will be closed when it’s not in use and for added protection, you’ll only be prompted to unlock with biometrics when you want to make the camera live from the app to provide a live view.

Outside of this, the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera can be added to existing Arlo modes. If you have an existing system, you can have the Indoor Camera go live when you turn the other cameras on – and that can be manually, on a schedule, based on geolocation from your phone, or from any other condition, with a wide range of options in the app.


The important thing to note about Arlo’s cameras is that they don’t capture all the time. They need to be “turned on” via a capture mode, after which they will then start recording once triggered either by motion or sound.

Video and audio capture and performance

  • 2MP sensor, 1080p (Full HD) video
  • Motion and audio detection
  • Infrared (IR) night vision
  • Two-way audio

The Arlo Essential Indoor Camera has a Full HD camera on the front with a 130 degree field of view from the lens. It offers digital zoom up to 12x and had infrared illumination to provide night vision. Unlike some of Arlo’s other models, there’s no LED illuminator on this model.

There’s two-way audio, meaning you can capture audio or hear live audio, while also being able to reply via a small speaker on the rear of the camera. There’s no siren on this model either.

Detection can be triggered by motion or sound depending on the placement of the camera. In some conditions, sound might cause too many false alerts, but you can change the sensitivity or remove sound if you feel it’s not helpful.

Captured video is of good quality, with accurate colours during daylight and enough detail in low-light conditions from the IR illuminator to see what’s going on. The lack of resolution shouldn’t be a concern: typically indoor cameras only need a shorter range, while higher resolution on outdoor cameras is mostly about providing great detail when zooming.

The wide-angle lens also captures plenty in its field of view, so you can place it in the corner of the room and know that you’ll get good full coverage. You can crop the capture area to exclude the edges of the frame, for example, so you’re not just recording areas of wall that are irrelevant. 

Arlo Smart and additional options

  • AI detection
  • Rich notifications
  • Alexa, Google Assistant integration

Arlo has started pushing its Arlo Smart subscription plan, providing additional features via that route. That means you buy the camera and then potentially face additional costs for additional features in the future.


Arlo Smart unlocks 30 days of cloud storage. That will mean that everything is in the cloud and accessible for a month, so you can look through video and download whatever you need. This has the advantage over local storage in that you can access it from anywhere – although if you connect it to an Arlo SmartHub during setup, you’ll also have the option of storing video to a local microSD card in that Hub.

Without an Arlo Smart plan you’ll get notifications of anything that’s detected and you’ll be able to live stream, but you won’t get any cloud storage, so that’s a good argument for Arlo Smart. There is a three month trial included with the camera, so you can test out the features before deciding if it’s for you.

Beyond that, there are some clever artificial intelligence (AI) features that Arlo Smart unlocks. You can get alerts for specific things, such as vehicle detection, animal detection, package detection, people detection. While most of these don’t apply to an indoor camera, it means you can turn off animal detection, for example, if you don’t want a notification every time your dog walks past the camera.

Perhaps more useful is rich notifications. This doesn’t just send you an image of what triggered the camera, but you’ll get a little motion image, so you can see the movement. This can make it much easier to see exactly what’s happening and decide whether you need to take action or not.


For example, we’ve had our indoor camera triggered by a spider spinning a web across the front of the lens. That’s not something we need to take action about and the rich notification shows exactly what’s happening, so there’s no need to open and unlock the app for a better look.

Arlo can be connected to Alexa or Google Assistant and that will mean you can talk to your device, for example an Echo Show, and view your camera via that device. Interestingly, this bypasses any of the security of the app, so in theory anyone in your house can ask to view your camera at any time.

As we said above, having the Privacy Shield is again a benefit here: if someone else in your house views the camera, you’ll see the Privacy Shield open, so you’ll know straight away.


There’s plenty of appeal in the Arlo Essential Indoor Camera. It works as a standalone device for those who just want some degree of indoor coverage, although it costs quite a bit more than something like the Ring Indoor Cam – which might do much the same basic job.

But there are additional features that add appeal to the Arlo camera. The Privacy Shield is a great option for those who don’t like staring down the barrel of the lens all the time, or worry that they might be being watched.

Arlo Smart adds a range of advanced features, which while not as useful indoors as they are outdoors, does boost the experience for those who subscribe – and adding this camera into an existing Arlo system is likely to be a popular option.

Also consider

Ring Indoor Cam

Ring’s Indoor Cam offers similar specs and will do much the same job, but you’ll need a Ring Protect subscription to get the most out of this camera.


Nest Cam IQ Indoor

This camera has comparable intelligence to the Arlo camera, but offers a 4K sensor so will capture high quality video.

  • Read the full review


Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Mike Lowe.


Xiaomi Mi 11i review: The Mi to set the bar, or a Mi too far?

(Pocket-lint) – Xiaomi really, really wants you to pay attention to the Mi 11 series. That’s clear because there’s a Mi 11, a higher-end Mi 11 Ultra, a lower-spec Mi 11 Lite 5G, plus a bunch of regional specifics – including this model on review, the Mi 11i, which is also known as the Mi 11X Pro in India.

Whew. Lost count yet? Us too. But that’s not even every Mi 11 model available – there’s actually eight in total at last count. We shant bother you with the additional options right here, but it does make us wonder if Xiaomi has taken its eye off the ball somewhat. There’s delivering something for everyone, then there’s delivering something excessively.

The Mi 11i, however, is a powerful handset that sits just below the original Mi 11, making for an ought-to-be-more-affordable option (its price is, at the time of writing, to be confirmed). It doesn’t sacrifice much in the pursuit of that saving, though, so is the ‘i’ the more favourable Mi model to go for or just a Mi too far?

Design & Display

  • Display: 6.67-inch AMOLED panel, 1080 x 2400 resolution, 120Hz refresh
  • Finishes: Celestial Silver, Frosty White, Cosmic Black
  • Dimensions: 164.7 x 74.6 x 7.8mm / Weight: 196g
  • Side-positioned fingerprint scanner

At a brief glance and the Mi 11i doesn’t look especially different to the Mi 11. But there are tell-tale signs: the ‘i’ doesn’t feature a curved screen; instead its 6.67-inch panel is not only a mite smaller than the Mi 11’s, but it’s flat too, which some will prefer – but we don’t think looks quite as flashy from a visual perspective.


The screen is quality, though, delivering a Full HD+ resolution – note that’s lower than the Mi 11’s WQHD+ offering – and capable of up to 120Hz refresh rate for smooth visuals. We’ve already seen the likes of this panel in the Redmi Note 10 Pro, so its performance is one and the same – i.e. decent quality.

As it’s an AMOLED panel that means the Mi 11i can have an always-on display activated – which illuminates the edges in a subtle fashion when there’s a notification, as one example – for visuals to be shown on the lock screen without actively needing to turn the display on. The screen tech also means deep blacks and rich colours as standard (and you can further tweak to your preference within the settings).

There’s little to criticise about the screen – although its brightness isn’t as searing as some. Still, it’s a sensible panel selection for this level, even better paired with this device than the Redmi, really, as the Mi 11i has more power to support that 120Hz fast refresh – ensuring support across more demanding situations.


Also similar to the Redmi, the Mi 11i drops the under-display fingerprint scanner for a side-positioned one in the power button. Although setting this up suggested it wasn’t going to be especially responsive – for some reason it was being fussy while registering – ongoing use has proven it to be highly responsive. We might even prefer it to an under-display option, as it happens.

Flip the Mi 11i over and, again, it looks largely similar to the original Mi 11. That means there’s a glass panel that’s curved at the edges, which picks up light nicely, but fingerprints show in abundance sadly. We much prefer the fingerprint-resistant and colourful finish of the Mi 11 Lite 5G.


Where things do differ is in the camera arrangement. The triple unit, which has two particularly large lenses, does protrude rather incessantly, but that’s all part and parcel of a flagship phone these days – the 11i’s isn’t as disruptive as the giant lump on the Mi 11 Ultra anyway. The really peculiar thing about the Mi 11i is the integrated microphone sandwiched between the two main lenses. Like, seriously, what is that all about? We’re weirded out every time we have to look at it.

Performance & Battery

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 8GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB UFS 3.1 (no microSD)
  • Battery: 4,520mAh; 33W charging
  • Software: MIUI 12 (on Android 11)
  • Dual SIM, 5G connectivity

Unlike the aforementioned Redmi device, the Mi 11i steps things up in the power department, utilising the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 platform as found in the original Mi 11. That’s the top-grade processor that you’ll find in any phone during 2021, which translates into really great performance.


As we said, it gives the Mi 11i an upper hand in ensuring that higher frame-rates are achievable for making the most of that fast-refresh panel. So whether you’re admiring the smooth scrolling around the MIUI software, or playing your very best PUBG: Mobile, it’s an impressive outlay.

Even when gaming we’ve not found heat dissipating from the body to be a problem – likely the result of a plastic rather than metal shell? – while the 4,520mAh battery has been holding up really well under our mixed use. We’ve been getting about 14 hours use, which has seen us arrive at just under half battery by bed time on most days. It also sports 33W fast-charging to get topped-up again nice and quick.

Part of the reason for this long battery innings is the fairly high impact of Xiaomi’s MIUI software. There are lots of options to pick through, a number of alerts to suggest limiting certain functions to retain battery, and a lot of per-app permissions that you’ll need to tinker with to ensure everything runs as you please. They’re not all in the one place, either, so you’ll really need to dig deep to find everything.

As we said of the original Mi 11: that’s kind-of good, but kind-of bad all at the same time, because there’s so much footwork to get everything functioning as you expect – and sometimes you won’t know there’s a ‘problem’ with a specific app until, say, it doesn’t send you a notification. And we’ve found Gmail slow to update and Outlook largely ill-responsive when it comes to notifications on this software platform.


All that said, however, we’ve not run into as many considerable hurdles while using the Mi 11i as with some other Xiaomi handsets. It’s quirks rather than total experience killers. And this is running MIUI 12.0.4 – so it’s still not on the expected 12.5 update. How much difference that will genuinely make is yet to be seen though.


  • Triple rear camera system:
    • Main: 108-megapixel, 0.8um pixel size, f/1.8 aperture
    • Wide (119 degrees): 8MP, f/2.2
    • Telemacro: 5MP, f/2.4
  • Front punch-hole selfie camera:
    • 20-megapixel, 0.8um pixel size, f/2.5 aperture

On the cameras front the Mi 11i is largely similar to the Mi 11. Both have triple rear systems, both of which feature a 108-megapixel main camera, a wide-angle, and a macro. However, the ‘i’ model downgrades the wide-angle’s resolution (from 13MP to 8MP) and drops the optical stabilisation of the main camera too.


: Wide angle camera (full size image)Wide angle camera (full size image)

Still, we’re glad that there aren’t other throwaway cameras like with so many other phones at the moment. Each lens has its own distinct task. Sure, that built-in microphone looks like its been installed by a 1970s Bond-esque spy team, but otherwise there’s not excesses to be seen. And, no, there’s no zoom lens here – but that wouldn’t be expected at this level. 

The main lens uses nine-in-one pixel processing to produce 12-megapixel images as standard – smaller than the four-in-one 27-megapixel output offering from the standard Mi 11 device. There’s still heaps of detail crammed in, though, so it’s a decent enough optic to deliver good results – just don’t expect too much in lower-light when you can’t hold the phone steady. The Night Mode isn’t that great, really, but it can get you out of a tricky low-light situation.


: Main camera (full size image)Main camera (full size image)

The telemacro, which also doesn’t feature any stabilisation either, can be a bit tricky to use. But its results are fun. You’ll get some great close-ups, but there’s not the same degree of accomplishment with sharpness or detail as the main lens – partly because it’s 5-megapixels only, partly because the autofocus is limited. But at least it’s a step better than the no-good 2-megapixel macro lenses that so many makers are mindlessly putting on their phones.

All in all, despite the absence of proper optical zoom lenses, the Mi 11i’s take on cameras is decent for this level. There are limitations, though, and the wide-angle isn’t very good here, but in terms of an accomplished main optic without too many distractions it works.


The Mi 11i is, on the one hand, a confusing entry to Xiaomi’s series because it adds yet another handset to the Mi 11 line-up. And that muddies the waters between the standard Mi 11 and the Mi 11 Lite 5G – the latter which we’d buy beyond both others given its preferable design.

On the other hand, the Mi 11i doesn’t get anything truly wrong, per se, it functions smoothly as there’s heaps of power – which is a reason you’d consider it above and beyond more budget contenders, such as the Redmi Note 10 Pro. 

Using the Mi 11i feels largely effortless, but as it’s an exercise in market flooding there’s also no distinctive reason to opt for one.

Also consider


Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G

Of all the Mi 11 handsets this would be our choice. It’s the best looking, the slimmest, and while not the most powerful just feels best balanced as the handset to own. Especially in the minty colour finish, as pictured, which we think looks super.

  • Read our review



Redmi Note 10 Pro

It’s less powerful, but then it’s cheaper. With the same screen as the Mi 11i, but lesser protruding rear cameras, and software that – for whatever reason – we found more consistent, this money-saving option would be our budget alternative pick.

  • Read our review


Writing by Mike Lowe.


iOS 15 gives you better tools to fight the firehose of notifications — with a catch

Apple’s iOS 15 preview earlier this week gave us a look at an important new feature coming to your iPhone’s notifications: help. A few new tools may act as a life preserver for those of us up to our eyeballs in a sea of notifications every day, regulating which apps and people are allowed to bug us, and when. But on the flip side, app developers get some additional tools for getting your attention, too, and could very well start sending you even more notifications — albeit in a less disruptive way.

First, the good news: the new notification features in iOS 15 look genuinely good and useful. There’s a new feature called Focus that allows you to choose which people and apps you’d like to see notifications from at a given time. It’s like Do Not Disturb but with much more customization than simply turning off every possible disruption. You can set up modes for work, sleep, personal time, and other scenarios like workouts.

People who message you in third-party apps can be associated with their profile in your contacts list.
Image: Apple

When setting up a new Focus mode, Siri can scan your outgoing messages and calls and automatically suggest allowing notifications from the people you talk to most. There’s a neat trick here too: communications from the people you approve can come from other apps, like Facebook Messenger, not just from iMessage or texts. When you get that Facebook Messenger message in iOS 15, you may see prompts to associate that person in that app with a matching person in your contacts list, too. Once you’ve done this, communications from that person in a third-party app will be allowed to interrupt your Focus mode, provided that you approved them to do so.

You’ll also have the option to set a kind of away message when you’re using a Focus mode that will let others know you’re temporarily unavailable when they send you an iMessage. When your friend doesn’t hear back from you for hours, they won’t have to guess whether you hate them or you’re just really busy with work, and that’s nice for everyone. iOS 15 also adds notification summaries, which will batch lower priority notifications into digests you’ll receive at certain times of day.

Notification summaries.
Image: Apple

All of this gives you more control over interruptions, which is great! But what about app developers who want you to ~engage~ with their platform? They have new options too. They can now use one of four notification interruption types, two of which are new in iOS 15. First are passive interruptions, a new, less obtrusive kind of notification available to developers that doesn’t wake your screen or cause your phone to vibrate — they go straight to your notification center. Previous versions of iOS allowed the user to designate notifications from certain apps to be delivered silently, but this new framework lets the app developer choose to deliver them this way.

Notifications classified as “passive” appear in your notification center silently, without buzzing your phone or breaking through a Focus mode.
Image: Apple

These are the types of notifications likely to end up in summaries if you’ve enabled that feature. They don’t just appear in chronological order in the summary digest either — machine learning helps sort them by priority. They’ll likely include images and other visuals too, since Apple encourages developers to include media as part of the notification to increase its chances of showing up at the top of the summary list. And since the risk of annoying you is lower, developers have some incentive to send more frequent, more engaging notifications. They’ll be less disruptive, but these are the kinds of notifications we’re likely to see more of in iOS 15.

The other new interruption type is “time sensitive,” which is kind of a Notification Plus. It behaves like a standard notification, lighting up your screen and playing a sound or vibrating, but with an important difference: it’s allowed to break through your focus mode settings and notify you even if they aren’t from an “approved” app. The option to see time sensitive notifications can be turned on and off by the user, so if you really don’t want to see them, you don’t have to. In theory though, they should be for truly time sensitive events, like a package being delivered or your credit card company making sure it was you who bought two round-trip tickets to Maui.

In theory. Apple lets developers decide which notifications deserve time sensitive designation, so it’s more or less on the honor system. The company urges them to maintain trust and keep in mind that users can turn off notifications for their app if they feel they’re being bothered unnecessarily. And lest we forget, Apple itself has bent the rules before on what’s considered too intrusive for a notification. Could developers end up overusing time sensitive notifications? Possibly, but they likely won’t gain much from doing so, since users can opt out of them and may decide to silence the app entirely.

There are a few other things worth noting about notifications in iOS 15:

  • With compatible audio devices like AirPods, Siri will be able to read any incoming notification to you. Previously, this function was limited to things like incoming messages. By default, Siri will read the contents of messages and time sensitive notifications.
  • Notifications with a “critical” interruption type basically remain unchanged: these are things like Amber Alerts, which bypass your ringer settings to play a sound and get your attention. App developers still need special permission for these notifications, so we shouldn’t suddenly start seeing more of them in iOS 15.
  • Notifications will look a little different, with bigger app icons and images of contacts included in messages. The actions you can take on a notification (liking an image, etc.) will get graphical icons, too.

iOS 15 and macOS 12 take a small but significant step towards a password-less future

Apple’s upcoming iOS 15 and macOS Monterey will preview a new feature called “Passkeys in iCloud Keychain,” which is an attempt to help replace passwords with a more secure login process. Instead of logging into an app or website using string of text, a WWDC presentation showed how you could instead use Face ID, Touch ID, or a security key, to gain access. The Passkeys are then synced across your Apple devices using iCloud.

Although passwords are currently the most popular way to secure accounts, they’re plagued with a host of problems. Passwords can be phished, forgotten, and they’re insecure if not used properly (think about the number of times you’ve been tempted to re-use one across multiple accounts). But Apple thinks its new Passkeys solution can solve these problems, as shown by the comparison table below.

Apple argues its new system is more secure than regular passwords, and more convenient than security keys.
Screenshot: Apple

In a demonstration, Apple showed how the new feature could remove the need to ever create a password to sign in to an app or website in the first place. Instead of creating a username and password during the sign-up process like normal, Apple authentication experience engineer Garrett Davidson just enters a username and allowed the app to register his Face ID as a Passkey. Then he showed how he could use Face ID to log into the app in future, or even log into his account via the service’s website. It works on Macs with Touch ID, too.

The functionality rests on the WebAuthn standard, which Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others have been slowly adding support for over time. Last year Apple added support for it to offer password-less logins in Safari in iOS and macOS. But the new approach goes deeper, integrating WebAuthn into an app’s sign-up process, and syncing your credentials across Apple devices via iCloud.

Behind the scenes, WebAuthn uses public key cryptography to let you log in without your private credentials ever having to actually leave your device. Instead, your phone or computer is only sending a “signature,” which proves your identity without having to share your secret private key.

WebAuthn’s process means your most sensitive information never leaves your device when you log in.
Screenshot: Apple

Apple admits that the feature is in its early stages. It’s only releasing in preview this year, and will be turned off by default in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. Developers can enable it, but it’s not meant for widespread use. There’s also the obvious limitation that the feature relies on iCloud to function, so you’re out of luck if you need to log in to the same service on a Windows or Android device. Apple admits this is a problem, however, suggesting it’s working towards improving cross-platform support in future. Apps and websites will also need to enable support for the new process.

But the move is another sign of the growing momentum behind ditching passwords. Microsoft has announced plans to make Windows 10 password-less, and Google has been working to make it possible to sign into its services without passwords.


Tesla delivers the first 25 Model S Plaid sedans

A lucky 25 customers received Tesla’s redesigned Model S “Plaid” at an event hosted by CEO Elon Musk in Fremont, California on Thursday night.

The Silicon Valley automaker has billed this new $130,000 version of the Model S — first announced in January and originally slated to ship in March — as the “quickest production vehicle ever made,” with the ability to go from 0-60mph in under 2 seconds. Its name is a reference to the unthinkable speed beyond “Ludicrous” in the comedy classic Spaceballs. It’s also expected to get around 390 miles of range. (Tesla is selling a less powerful version of the redesigned Model S with more range — 412 miles — that starts at just a hair under $80,000. Deliveries of those start later this year.)

Why so fast? “We’ve got to show that an electric car is the best car, hands down,” Musk said at Thursday night’s event. “It’s got to be clear [that] sustainable energy cars can be the fastest cars, the safest cars, [and] can be the most kick-ass cars in every way.”

“This car crushes,” he said.

On June 6, Musk announced Tesla had canceled the most expensive version of the new Model S, which was called Plaid Plus. That version, which had a starting price of around $150,000, was supposed to go 520 miles on a full battery. It was also supposed to be powered by the new 4680 lithium-ion battery cells that Tesla is developing. A redesigned Model X was also announced in January, but deliveries of that new SUV have been pushed back months, and Musk didn’t mention the updated SUV Thursday night.

Musk once shot down rumors of a Model S and Model X redesign in 2019, saying there was “no ‘refreshed’ Model X or Model S coming.” Instead, Musk said Tesla was always making minor improvements to both vehicles. But sales of both vehicles have stagnated in recent years as Tesla focused on the more affordable Model 3 sedan and Model Y compact SUV. The redesigned versions are a chance to boost sales of these older cars. The company seems confident enough in the new Model S Plaid that it raised the starting price by $10,000 earlier today.

Musk got deep into the weeds about Tesla’s “practically alien” engineering, but he was also light on details about execution. Musk said that Tesla plans to deliver “several hundred [Model S Plaids] per week soon,” and will “probably” ramp up to around 1,000 per week next quarter. But he made almost no mention of the Model X Plaid, the dual-motor “long range” Model S, and he didn’t expand on his reasoning for canceling the 520-mile Plaid Plus. Earlier this week, he simply told Electrek that “more range doesn’t really matter.”

“There are essentially zero trips above 400 miles where the driver doesn’t need to stop for restroom, food, coffee, etc. anyway,” he said.

The new Model S is the first major overhaul for the sedan since it launched in 2012 and set Tesla on its path to its current status as the world’s top electric vehicle company. The exterior design is largely unchanged (though it has a super low drag coefficient of 0.208) and the interior has received a big facelift.

The Model S now has a horizontal touchscreen like the one found in the Model 3 and Model Y, but with a bigger 17-inch version with smaller bezels. Unlike the Model 3 and Model Y, there’s a digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. A third screen is found behind the center console for rear passengers. Tesla showed off a new UI for the screens on Thursday night, which features drag-and-drop elements and other refinements. Musk even capitulated to shouts from the crowd of fans at one point and agreed to finally add a waypoint feature to Tesla’s navigation system.

There are other upgrades, too, such as more room for rear passengers, as well as rear-seat wireless phone chargers. “The current Model S, the backseat is not amazing. But the new one — it’s actually a legit backseat,” Musk said.

The Model S Plaid has extremely powerful processing that can run AAA games on the car’s screens at 60 frames per second, in addition to powering all of the other services Tesla allows, such as Netflix, Spotify. “Really, it’s like a home theater experience,” Musk said.

Tesla has also changed a lot under the proverbial hood. The Model S Plaid is powered by a new tri-motor drivetrain that Tesla originally started developing for the forthcoming second-generation Roadster. (The company tested the Plaid powertrain in a Model S sedan at famous racetracks: Laguna Seca and the Nurburgring.) Those three motors collectively put down around 1,000 horsepower, and the car can reach a top speed of 200 miles per hour — though only when outfitted certain wheels and tires that won’t be available until later this year. “It hits you right in the limbic system,” Musk said.

Earlier Model S sedans weren’t exactly slow, but the new one will be more capable of repeating that performance thanks to some new tech Tesla developed. The company has been working on new heat pumps starting with the Model Y, and in the Model S Plaid Tesla says the pump improves cold-weather range by 30 percent and reduces the energy consumption of running the HVAC system by 50 percent. The radiator is also much bigger in order to help cool the battery pack during demanding drives. Tesla even developed new carbon-wrapped rotors in the electric motors that power the Plaid system in order to keep them from breaking apart at high RPM.

Repeating high performance runs was a tricky prospect in older Model S sedans, so much so that Porsche made sure to market the Taycan’s ability to make lots of fast runs without losing performance when that EV launched. All of those changes should help Tesla answer Porsche. Musk claims the new Model S will be safer than most other cars on the road based on Tesla’s internal data. The car has not yet been tested by safety regulators.

One possible hiccup in safety: the striking, U-shaped “yoke” steering wheel. It was reportedly a surprise to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When Musk was asked by Joe Rogan in February whether he thought the new steering wheel was legal, the CEO said “they use a yoke in Formula One.”

“Yeah, but you’re not on the highway in a Formula One car,” Rogan responded. Musk answered that he believed Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system “is getting good enough that you won’t need to drive most of the time.”

Tesla not only changed up the steering wheel design, but it also got rid of all of the stalks on the steering column. There will be an option on the touchscreen to select drive modes, but Tesla sees that as a backup. Instead, the car will default to automatically shifting between park, reverse, and drive.

“I think, generally, all input is error,” Musk said Thursday night.


Polar Ignite 2 review: Enough of a spark?

(Pocket-lint) – The Polar Ignite 2 is the follow-up fitness watch to the 2019 original. While it gives you all those key sports watch features, its key skills are to track your workouts and tell you the ones you should be doing next.

The relatively low asking price puts it up against the likes of the now older Apple Watch Series 3 or Fitbit Versa 3, but does the second-gen Polar deliver enough spark?

Design and display

  • 1.2-inch IPS TFT touchscreen, 240 x 204 resolution
  • 43mm case diameter, 8.5mm thick
  • Waterproof to 30 metres
  • Weighs 35g

The Ignite 2 is virtually identical to the original watch. It has the same-sized round polymer case, with a single physical button tucked away in the bottom corner, and a touchscreen controlled display. 


That’s partnered up with a silicone strap with a traditional watch-style buckle that comes in two size options. Those straps are removable too with a simple pin mechanism, letting you quickly swap for one of Polar’s dressier options or a strap that looks a lot like one of Apple’s sport bands.

Polar is offering some more colourful options here too as well. There’s now champagne, blue, black, and pink strap options to go with the four case colour options.

The Ignite 2 is a light watch – at just 35g – and we’ve found it’s been very comfortable to wear 24/7. If you like the idea of a watch that doesn’t sit big and bulky on your wrist, then it’s got appeal. 

The biggest design change over the Ignite lies with the more textured, grippier finish on the case. With the right case and strap combo, it gives a slightly nicer-looking watch than its predecessor, but it’s the smallest of changes where pretty much everything else otherwise remains the same.


Another element that hasn’t changed is the screen. It’s the same 1.2-inch touchscreen display that offers the same in the way of overall quality and viewing angles. It’s not as crisp, vibrant or as colourful as an AMOLED screen, but it’s a good enough screen surroundings to soak up your stats. 

What isn’t so good is the still lingering lagging you get when interacting with this screen. It was the same on the first Ignite and clearly Polar hasn’t sought to improve things regarding the screen’s slightly delayed response.

Software and performance

  • Phone notifications, music controls and weather forecasts
  • Works with Polar Flow and third-party apps 

As is the case with all of Polar’s watches (aside from a brief play with Google’s Wear OS for its M600 watch), it sticks to packing on its own in-house operating system. 

It’s a software that pairs to your phone over Bluetooth and does offer the ability to pair up external Bluetooth heart-rate sensors. In the Ignite 2 you don’t get the ANT+ connectivity you get on more expensive Polar watches to widen the support of devices you can connect it to.

The software experience is similar to what you’ll find on Polar’s top-end watches, albeit with a greater emphasis on using the touchscreen to navigate your way around the interface. You can commence workout tracking in the same fashion, while swiping left and right on the watch screen will drop additional information around the watch face, such as current heart rate, activity tracking data, and a useful weekly summary of your training.

Polar has sought to offer more smartwatch features on the Ignite this time around, rolling out features that have already appeared on its Vantage series and Grit X watches. Along with the same notification support, you now getting weather forecasts, the ability to adjust the look of watch faces, and there’s now music controls here too.


They’re not groundbreaking features, but they’re ones that make the Ignite 2 more useful to have around when you’re not just working out. They work well enough, too, although displaying notifications still feels a little clunky. The music controls are easy to use and work with third-party apps like Spotify, though, which is good news.

Off the watch, your go-to place for setting things up is the Polar Flow phone app or desktop app, but this is a watch that will play nice with third-party apps if you want to bypass Polar’s own once you’ve set things up. Much like Garmin, there’s a lot going on in Polar Flow and it pays to spend some time to get to know where things live in the app and get a sense of what all of the extra training insights mean.

Sports and fitness tracking 

  • FitSpark workout recommendations
  • Nightly Recharge measurements 
  • Pool swim tracking  

Despite its small stature, Polar still manages to pack in quite an impressive array of features into the Ignite 2. There’s built-in GPS, the same Precision Prime heart rate monitor technology used on its pricier Vantage watches, and a rich collection of training features like adaptive running programmes.


For sports tracking, you’re getting access to over 130 profiles – with activities like running, cycling, pool swimming the best served. There’s also profiles for HIIT and cross training, with a bigger emphasis on monitoring heart rate to measure effort levels during those workouts.

GPS signal pick-up was nice and snappy on our outdoor runs and distance tracking accuracy and core running metrics were in line with a similarly-priced Garmin watch.

In the water, however, the Polar wasn’t so good. Accuracy of tracking laps was fine on shorter swims, but accuracy waned noticeably over swimming longer distances above 400-500 metres.


If you’re hoping for a reliable heart rate monitor, then the one on the Ignite 2 performed well in most of our tests. On runs and home workouts, it was a few beats per minute (bpm) out from a Garmin HRM-Pro chest strap monitor. For something more intense like interval training, that accuracy and ability to keep up with the sudden spikes and drops in heart rate shows though. It’s not a terrible performer, but if you yearn for supreme accuracy, take the opportunity to pair up an external sensor.

One of the standout features on the Ignite 2 is FitSpark. This is Polar’s smart suggested workouts feature that looks at the types of sessions you’ve logged with your watch to recommend workouts you should do around them. So it may suggest working on strength if you’ve been smashing the cardio lately, or adding some mobility work to better balance your training.

It works really well too, clearly instructing you what to do during the workouts and will start a countdown and send a vibrating buzz to let you know when to prepare for the next workout. It’s not a feature unique to this Polar watch, but it’s one that’s great to use if you’re not sure about what to do when it comes to training.


If you’re yearning for some of the more advanced training analysis you get on Polar’s other watches, you can still get details on your cardio load status and you can learn more about whether you’re under- or over-training. You can now also understand what’s fuelling your run with the new Energy Sources feature – this heart rate-fuelled feature gives you a breakdown if you’ve used carbohydrates, proteins or fats to power a workout. 

The Ignite 2 doubles up as a pretty solid fitness tracker too. It will track steps, distances, nudge you when you’ve not been active for a period of time, and display in the app a breakdown of when you were most active during the day.

But what’s really impressive with the Ignite 2 is the sleep tracking. It offers all the typical things you’d expect to find on a sleep monitoring watch, including a breakdown of sleep stages including REM sleep and sleep scores. Where things get interesting are the Nightly Recharge measurements, which aim to help you better assess if you’ve recovered from a tough physical day. It looks at sleep quality and how your autonomic nervous system calms during the early hours of sleep to generate the measurement. It can then offer tips on whether you should train or why you might have had a bad night of sleep.


The accuracy of sleep tracking ultimately dictates how useful this feature is – and against a Fitbit’s pretty impressive sleep tracking the Polar held up really well on that front. So if you’re looking for a watch that tracks sleep but also offers useful, actionable insights based on that data, the Ignite 2 fits the bill. 

Battery life

  • 165mAh battery, up to 5 days per charge
  • 100 hours in training mode
  • 20 hours GPS battery life

The Ignite 2 promises to deliver up to five days of life in smartwatch mode – with continuous heart rate monitoring in use. When you’re using GPS, you can expect to get 20 hours of tracking time. And there’s now a new training mode that will record workouts up to 100 hours.

What we’ve learnt over our experience with Polar’s latest watches is that they can come up a little short on those claims. That doesn’t change with the Ignite 2. It’s clear the more advanced sleep monitoring features Polar has introduced have quite a noticeable drain on battery – and you can’t turn it off. You can disable continuous heart rate monitoring, which will get you to that five day mark – otherwise it’s more like four.


When you’re putting GPS tracking to use, you’re getting around the same battery life as a similarly priced watch from Garmin, but significantly more GPS battery life than what you’re going to get from any Apple Watch model. If you want something that can get you just under a week of training, then that’s what the Ignite 2 will get you.

When it’s time for charging, Polar retains the same disc charger that clips onto the back and takes over an hour to get from 0-100 per cent, so it’s a relatively snappy charger.


Polar hasn’t made wholesale changes compared to the first Ignite, instead focusing on improving the look and trickling down some features from its pricier watches into the Ignite 2.

But it’s got pretty much everything you could want in a fitness watch, offering solid tracking for most activities, plenty in the way of data, features and insights, and is a light and comfortable watch to live with.

Features like FitSpark and the Nightly Recharge measurements is what really makes the Ignite 2 stand out from the similar price competition. The latter though clearly is a drain on battery life. 

As a smartwatch you’ll get more from the likes of Garmin, Fitbit and Apple. But in terms of a fitness watch first and foremost there’s a lot to like here.

If you like the idea of a watch that does a great job of bringing training and recovery closer together and helping you make sense of it, the Ignite 2 is worth strapping on.

Also consider


Apple Watch Series 3

While you’ll have to live with much less battery life, the Series 3 gives you a better screen, smartwatch features, and pretty solid sports tracking in a more attractive, customisable look.

  • Read our review



Garmin Venu Sq

The square Venu Sq is in a similar price range and again offers a nicer display and more smartwatch features like Spotify offline playlist support.

  • Read our review



Polar Unite

If you can live without the built-in GPS, the Unite offers those great FitSpark and Nightly Recharge measurements for less money.

  • Read our review


Writing by Michael Sawh. Editing by Mike Lowe.


OnePlus updates its midrange Nord with new processor and a headphone jack

OnePlus has announced a new addition to its lineup of midrange phones, the Nord CE. According to the company, the “CE” stands for “Core Edition,” an indication that the company is focusing on the fundamentals, rather than inflating the device’s spec sheet with unnecessary extras. The phone is launching in Europe and India, and there are no plans for a US release.

What this focus on the fundamentals means in practice is that the Nord CE is slightly stripped down compared to last year’s Nord, but it’s slightly higher-specced than its predecessor, too. So you’re getting a higher-resolution 64-megapixel main camera (up from 48 megapixels), but there are only three rear sensors in total. (There’s also an 8-megapixel ultrawide with a 119-degree field of view and a 2-megapixel monochrome sensor.) The Nord CE also only has a single 16-megapixel selfie camera, with no secondary ultrawide like the original Nord.

The phone features a very similar design to its predecessor.
Image: OnePlus

Internally, there’s a Snapdragon 750G powering this year’s model, compared to the 765G in last year’s phone. OnePlus claims its CPU is 20 percent faster, while its GPU is 10 percent faster. That’s paired with a choice of 6, 8, or 12GB of RAM, although these options vary slightly based on region. There’s a 4,500mAh battery inside the Nord CE, up from 4,115mAh last year, and the phone supports Warp Charge 30T Plus fast charging, which OnePlus says should charge you from 0 to 70 percent in half an hour.

Externally, the Nord CE looks very similar to its predecessor. It’s got a very similarly styled camera bump on the back left (though with three rather than four cameras) and a hole-punch for its selfie camera on the front of the phone (again, with one rather than two cameras). However, on the bottom of the phone, you’ll find a headphone jack, which was missing from last year’s device. In terms of display, the Nord CE comes with a 6.43-inch 90Hz 1080p OLED panel. The phone is available in blue, black, or silver.

The Nord CE will be available to preorder in limited quantities from OnePlus itself starting today in the UK, and these devices will ship on June 14th. The device goes on general sale on June 21st. In the UK, it starts at £299 (€329) for the model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and £369 (€399) for the model with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. In Europe, there’s a version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which will retail for €299. Those prices are slightly cheaper than the original Nord, which started at £379 (€399) for its 8GB model.

Like the original Nord, OnePlus says it doesn’t have plans to release the Nord CE in the US. Instead, the US has the OnePlus Nord N200 5G to look forward to. It’s a successor to the N100 that OnePlus CEO Pete Lau recently confirmed will retail for under $250.


How to watch the Summer Game Fest’s ‘Kickoff Live’ event

Summer Game Fest 2021, hosted by Geoff Keighley, is getting started with new game announcements two days ahead of E3 2021 with its “Kickoff Live” event. In addition to news, it’s perhaps the only event to feature both an appearance from Jeff Goldblum and a musical performance by Weezer. The list of partners for the preview event includes 2K, Activision, Blizzard, Capcom, InnerSloth, Epic Games, Sony PlayStation, Riot Games, Square Enix, Ubisoft, Microsoft Xbox, and more. Here’s how to watch.

When does Summer Game Fest start?

The kickoff show is happening this Thursday, June 10th at 2PM ET / 11AM PT / 6PM GMT. And like last year’s happenings, it’s all online, so you can just hang out at home and watch all of the announcements from your PC, phone, or TV.

Like last year, there will likely be more Summer Game Fest events throughout the season.

Where can I stream Summer Game Fest?

This game event is being hosted on several platforms, giving you plenty of options. It’s being livestreamed on YouTube (we’ve embedded the video above that’ll go live later), as well as Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook.

How to set up a VPN

Virtual private networks (VPNs) can offer an additional layer of security and privacy for your online activity. Whether you’re working on a public Wi-Fi network and want to escape prying eyes, or you’re worried about privacy in general, a VPN can offer a lot of benefits.

In a nutshell, a VPN establishes a secure, encrypted connection between your device and a private server, hiding your traffic from being seen by others. Of course, the VPN itself can still see your traffic, which is why you should choose a VPN from a company you trust. (A good rule of thumb is to avoid free VPNs, because if they’re not charging you a fee, they may be monetizing in some less desirable way.) In addition, law enforcement can get its hands on your information through the VPN company. However, for the most part, a VPN offers you a way to hide your online activity from others.

Note that getting a VPN is only one of the measures you can take to make your web browsing more secure. Others include enabling two-factor authentication and using a password manager.

In addition to their security benefits, VPNs can be handy when you’re trying to access sensitive information, or if you’re traveling in Europe and want to stream Netflix or Amazon Prime titles only allowed in the US. Some even claim they can allow you to jump firewalls in heavily regulated countries such as China.

At home, you can set up your VPN through your router, which takes a few more steps, but then any devices connected to your router won’t need to be configured individually; this can also slow down all traffic that goes through. However, for this article, we’re going to concentrate on VPN apps that you can load on your laptop or phone so you can use the internet safely while away from your home base.

Most VPN apps these days support the OpenVPN protocol, making setup a simple matter of allowing the app access to configure the settings for you. But whether your device uses macOS, Chrome OS, Windows 10, iOS, or Android, if you’d like a quick overview of what’s involved before selecting a service, or if you prefer to do a manual setup, we’ve broken down the steps into straightforward instructions for you.

Setting up a VPN in Windows 10

The first step is to create a VPN profile, which you’ll fill out with details from your particular VPN service.

Add a VPN profile in Windows 10.

  • Click on the Windows button, then head into “Settings” > “Network & Internet” > “VPN.” Click on “Add a VPN connection.”
  • In the fields on the menu, select “Windows (built-in)” for your VPN provider. Give your VPN a name under “Connection name.” Enter the server name or address, the VPN type, and the type of sign-in info, such as a username and password.
  • Click “Save.”
  • To connect to your VPN, go back to “Settings” > “Network & Internet” > “VPN.” Click on your VPN name.
  • If you want, you can select “Advanced Options” to edit the connection properties, clear your sign-in info, or set up a VPN proxy. You can also add a username and password in this section for extra security (optional, but recommended).
  • Select “Connect” and enter a password if you’ve set one.

Setting up a VPN in Chrome OS

While using a VPN with a Chromebook used to be a problem, these days, there are several (like ExpressVPN or NordVPN) that have versions specifically for Chrome OS. To get started, you can head to the Google Play store and get the VPN app from there, or download one from the VPN’s website. No matter which you choose, after opening your VPN app, it should prompt you with instructions on how to fully set it up.

If you need to do it manually, you can. Chrome has native support for L2TP / IPsec and OpenVPN. To install a VPN that works with one of these formats:

Chrome OS has native support for L2TP / IPsec.

  • Click on the time in the lower-right corner of your screen, then click on “Settings.”
  • Click on “Add connection” and then on “OpenVPN / L2TP.” (You may also find the name of your VPN in the “Add connection” list, which will make things easier.)
  • Add all of the necessary information, which may include server hostname, service name, provider type, pre-shared key, username, and password. You can save your identity and password if you like. When finished, click on “Connect.”

Some VPNs, especially those issued from a workplace, demand a certificate, which you will need to import first. If that’s required:

  • Enter chrome://settings/certificates into the address bar.
  • Go to the “Authorities” tab. Find the correct certificate in the list and click “Import.”
  • Then follow the instructions above for setting up the VPN.

Setting up a VPN in macOS

As with the other formats here, there are apps that automatically guide you through the setup process, but you can also do it yourself manually.

Open the drop-down menu and choose “VPN” so you can enter your VPN’s details.

  • To start, head into “System Preferences” and then choose “Network.”
  • From there, the process is straightforward. Click the Plus-symbol button on the bottom left, and use the Interface drop-down menu to choose your VPN. You’ll need the details from your VPN of choice to fill out “VPN Type” and “Service Name.”
  • Click on “Create.” Fill out the server address, remote ID, and local ID in the appropriate fields. Then click on “Authentication Settings.”
  • Enter the username and password for your VPN, which you can set through your VPN app.
  • Click “OK” and then “Connect.”

Setting up a VPN in iOS

Setting up a VPN on an iOS device is fairly simple. Again, if you download an app from the App Store, select it and it should guide you through configuration. Here’s how to do it manually, though:

  • Just head into “Settings” and tap on “General.”
  • Scroll down to select “VPN.” (The iPhone will indicate whether you are currently connected to one or not.)
  • Tap on “Add VPN Configuration” and then on “Type” to select a security protocol. (Follow the instructions provided by your chosen app.)
  • Go back to the “Add Configuration” screen, where you will add the VPN’s description, server, remote ID, and local ID.
  • Enter your username and password. You can also use a proxy if you like.
  • Tap “Done.” You will then be brought back to the VPN screen. Toggle the “Status” switch to on.

Setting up a VPN in Android

As with iOS, setting up a VPN on an Android device shouldn’t be too difficult. Here’s the manual process if you’re not letting an app automatically configure things for you. (Keep in mind that, because some vendors like Samsung tweak their Android versions, your process may vary slightly.)

  • Head into “Settings” > “Network & Internet” > “Advanced” > “VPN.” If you don’t see “Network & Internet” in the Settings menu (which may depend on your Android overlay), then do a search within Settings for VPN. Press the “Add” button.
  • If you happen to be setting this up on a new phone, or if you haven’t yet set a screen lock or password, Google will prompt you to set one for your phone first. Do so.
  • Now create your VPN profile. Add the VPN name, type, and server address. Click on “Save.”
  • You’ll be taken back to the VPN screen, where you should now see the name of your VPN. Tap on it, and put in your name and password for the VPN. You can also choose to save your account information, and you can optionally set the VPN to be always on. When finished, tap “Connect.”
  • Enter the VPN name, type, server address, username, and password.
  • Then tap “save.” You’re done!

Once you’ve got your VPN up and running, you might notice that web browsing isn’t as fast as it used to be, especially if you’ve configured traffic to go through another country. Stronger encryption, or more users connected to one VPN, can also slow down your internet speeds. Downloads might slow to snail speed, and your League of Legends screen lag might be absurd. But those aren’t big problems compared to the security that you’ve added.

And anyway, now that you know how to set up a VPN, toggling it off is easy in comparison. You just have to remember to do it.

Update June 1st, 2021, 10:20AM ET: This article was originally published on March 1st, 2019, and now features a few updates related to changes in the Windows 10 interface.


The best features of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS that Apple didn’t announce onstage

Apple had its WWDC keynote on Monday, where it showed off the big new features coming to its platforms, but it didn’t have time to show off everything coming to the new versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. So we’ve combed through the preview pages, Twitter, and a good chunk of the internet to see what interesting features got left out of the presentation.

The big features in iOS and iPadOS were the updates to notifications, FaceTime, and multitasking, but it appears Apple may have been really focusing on the platforms themselves, too. There are a ton of quality-of-life improvements including:

  • More Memoji options with new outfits and accessibility options
  • FaceTime will let you know when you’re muted but trying to talk.
  • FaceTime will also let you zoom with the back camera so you can finally show people things across the room without standing up.
  • The Announce Messages feature found in AirPods is coming to CarPlay, so your phone can automatically read texts out loud while you’re driving.
  • Wary iPhone users will be able to put off upgrading to iOS 15 but still get security updates.
  • Find My will be able to track your iPhone when it’s off (or even after it’s been factory reset). It’s currently unclear what phones will support this feature.
  • There’s an improved print dialog with more options.
  • You’ll get free temporary iCloud storage when you transfer to a new device, but it will only last for three weeks.
  • Leaving and arrival times are coming to Apple Maps, letting you better plan trips in the future.
  • iPhone apps for iPad will be able to run in landscape. No more flipping your iPad around when you need to check the one app that is still iPhone only.
  • There will be push notifications to tell you when it’s going to rain.
  • You’ll have the ability to schedule HomeKit devices with Siri (for example, asking it to turn on your bedroom lights at 7PM).
  • Safari is getting the pull-to-refresh mechanism found in Mail and many social network apps.
  • Accessibility settings like text size and contrast will be able to be set on a per-app basis.
  • EXIF data will be available in Photos, including camera and lens info.
  • You’ll also be able to adjust a photo’s date and time.
  • There’s a redesigned software Apple TV remote, which looks more like the new hardware version.
  • Panoramas taken on iPhone 12s should have less distortion, and moving subjects should look better.
  • You’ll be able to suggest to Photos that specific subjects shouldn’t show up in places like the Photos widget or Memories.
  • Spotlight will be accessible from the lock screen and Notification Center.
  • Filtering for spam texts… if you live in Brazil, that is. It’s likely rolling out there because of rampant spamming of SMS in the country — India got the feature last year.
  • You’ll be able to drag and drop files across apps on iPhone.
  • Spanish speakers will be able to choose whether their devices refer to them using masculine, feminine, or neutral words.
  • Mail is getting a widget, and there’s also a widget to show you how poorly you slept.
  • iPads are getting the ability to tab through text fields and buttons in apps, as can be done with Macs and in Safari.
  • iPads will support eye-tracking hardware to improve accessibility by letting people control a cursor using just their eyes.

The Monterey portion of the keynote was dominated by an incredibly impressive demo that showed off Apple’s new Universal Control feature, but Apple also took the time to discuss Shortcuts, which are coming to macOS. Macs are complex machines, though, and there are a few more fun and useful things that will be coming in the fall:

  • The ability to use your Memoji as your user profile picture (it’ll even shake its head if you try to log in with the wrong password).
  • A software microphone indicator light in the menu to show when an application is listening to you
  • A better file copy interface, with the ability to pause and resume transfers
  • The easy ability to erase user data, settings, and apps without re-installing the OS (great for if you’re selling your Mac)
  • The ability to manage your saved passwords in System Preferences. You can also import them from other password managers or export them.
  • You can customize the mouse cursor’s outline and fill color.
  • Windows will resize when you move them to another monitor.
  • Shortcuts will let you integrate shell commands.
  • An improved Go To Folder dialog in Finder

Of course, Apple is running an ecosystem here, so many of the features that got announced will be coming to all of its computers. Here are a few more that will also be coming to iPhones, iPads, and Macs:

  • A built-in one-time password generator, similar to Google Authenticator or Authy
  • Safari will detect if websites can support HTTPS and will automatically use it if they do (similar to the HTTPS Everywhere extension).
  • A low power mode for macOS and iPad (I can’t wait to see how far I can stretch an M1 MacBook Pro)
  • Reminders are also getting a tags feature, similar to the one found in Notes.
  • The Photos info pane will tell you about what Visual Look Up sees in the picture.
  • The ability to turn on DownTime whenever, if you really need to focus on something
  • An extension for Edge on Windows that lets you use your iCloud Passwords

Well, Apple showed off pretty much everything for WatchOS onstage — it looks like it’s not a big year for the wearable (but I’ll be very happy to get better always-on display support and multiple timers). There are some new time complications, though!

Just noticed there is a new set of Time complications in watchOS 8. While a slight bit of ‘Sherlocking’ for Watchsmith, I’m honestly super glad it’s here. A good number of my gray hairs came from supporting time based complications…glad I can focus elsewhere now.

— David Smith (@_DavidSmith) June 9, 2021

If you want to know if you’ll be getting these features, we’ve laid out which devices the new OSs will be coming to here:


Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 review: Duet redux

All in all, Asus’s Chromebook Detachable CM3 is a nice package. It’s a 10.5-inch tablet with magnetically-attached fabric cover and kickstand. It’s $389.99 as tested, which means it’s priced far below all kinds of convertible Chromebooks. I’m not the first to make this comparison, but it’s a slightly more expensive, and slightly fancier version of the $269 Lenovo Chromebook Duet (currently listed at $269) that impressed me so much last year.

I think the CM3 is a slightly worse purchase than the Duet for most people who are looking for a secondary device, or a small Chromebook for a student. The CM3 does offer a few noticeable benefits over the Duet, but I’m not sure they’re worth $100. While features like a dual-folding kickstand, a garaged stylus, and a headphone jack are nice to have, none of them are as central to a device’s user experience as its processor. And while $269 is an acceptable price to pay for a tablet with a MediaTek chip, $389.99 is pushing it.

With all that said, I don’t have many problems with this Chromebook. It’s just in a bit of an odd spot.

My test unit includes 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, a 10.5-inch 1920 x 1200 display, and a MediaTek 8183 processor. There’s a 64GB version listed at $369.99 as well. 64GB isn’t a lot of storage (and there’s no microSD card slot for expansion on the CM3), so my config is the one I’d recommend most people go for.

The most important thing to understand about the CM3 before you buy it is the size. It’s small, with just a 10.5-inch screen. This brings benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, it’s quite slim and portable, at just 0.31 inches thick and 1.1 pounds (2.02 pounds with the keyboard and stand attached). It’s the kind of thing I could easily carry in my purse.

On the other hand, a 10.5-inch screen is cramped for a desktop OS like Chrome OS (though it is bright enough to use outdoors, and I appreciate that it has a 16:10 aspect ratio — 16:9 would be unbearable for me at this size). But it was too small for me to comfortably use as a work driver. I had to zoom out far to be able to see everything I needed to in my Chrome windows.

It also means there’s only so much space for the keyboard deck, which is also cramped. The touchpad, in particular, is small. The keyboard itself is roomier than the Duet’s, though — it has a surprising amount of travel and a satisfying click. While the small keys are a bit of an adjustment, none are small enough as to be unusable.

Small doesn’t mean cheap, and the CM3’s build is fairly sturdy overall. The palm rests and detachable keyboard deck feel quite plasticky, but the tablet itself is aluminum (with “diamond-cut edges”, per Asus). The magnetic cover is made of a woven fabric, and looks quite similar to the cover of the Chromebook Duet. The cover is included with the price of the CM3, which isn’t the case with some detachables (such as Microsoft’s Surface Go line).

A USI stylus lives in the top right corner of the chassis — it’s firmly in there, so you’ll need a nail to tug it out. It’s small, and not my favorite stylus I’ve ever used, but it is there and does work. The Duet supports USI styluses, but it doesn’t come with one, so that’s one advantage the CM3 brings.

The main way the CM3 is unique to other detachables is that its kickstand folds multiple ways. That is, you can fold it the long way when you’re using the tablet like a laptop, or you can flip the tablet vertically and fold the kickstand horizontally. This is a cool feature I haven’t seen before, and it does work — I was never worried about the CM3 falling over in either direction.

On the other hand, the only real use case I can think of for the horizontal position is video calls where you don’t need to have the keyboard attached and are okay with the camera being on the side of the screen. You can take your own view, but I’d rather use an iPad or dedicated tablet for these purposes and have the camera in the right place.

My unit did have a bit of fraying on the edges of the keyboard deck, which was disappointing to see on a brand-new device, even at this price. The kickstand cover also slipped off the tablet a few times while I was adjusting the height, which isn’t something that ever happened with the Duet.

Speaking of convertibility, the CM3 has a two-megapixel front-facing camera as well as an eight-megapixel rear-facing camera. Both cameras deliver a surprisingly reasonable picture. I wasn’t too washed out when I did a video call outside, nor was I too grainy in dim light. That said, the dual-camera setup is another cool-sounding feature that probably isn’t the most pragmatic: The rear camera isn’t good enough for actual photography of any kind, and the best use case is probably for snapping pictures of a whiteboard in class. It also takes a few seconds for the CM3 to swap between cameras (it’s not nearly as quick of a swap as it is on an iPhone, for example) so it wouldn’t have saved me a ton of time over just whipping out a phone.

The CM3’s MediaTek MTK 8183 is a hybrid chip that’s mainly used in Android tablets. (It’s a different MediaTek chip from the one that was in the Duet last year, but very similar to the one in uh, Amazon’s new Echo Show 8 smart display.) It’s far from the most powerful processor you can find in a Chromebook, but that’s by design — battery life is going to be a higher priority for many folks who are considering a device as portable as the CM3.

The battery life is, in fact, excellent. I averaged 12 hours and 49 minutes of continuous use running the CM3 through my regular workload of Chrome tabs and Android apps including Slack, Messenger, Twitter, Gmail, Spotify, and an occasional Zoom call with the screen at medium brightness — over an hour longer than I saw from the Duet with the same workload. This is already a heavier load than many people may want to put the CM3 through, so you may get even more time between charges. The 45W USB-C adapter juiced the CM3 up to 40 percent in an hour, making it much faster than the Duet’s wimpy 10W charger.

That battery life doesn’t come free, though, and the CM3’s performance was a mixed bag. It works fine in Chrome, for example, albeit with a teensy bit of sluggishness when swapping tabs and resizing windows, as well as other Google services like Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, and Meet (and it comes with a free 12-month 100GB membership to Google One for the rest of this year). Gaming is also fine — Flipping Legends and Monsters were both smooth and stutter-free, regardless of whether the CM3 was plugged in or running on battery.

I also think Chrome OS’s tablet mode, which the CM3 supports, has gotten pretty good. It uses Android-esque gesture controls that can help flatten the learning curve for new Chromebook users. Swiping up brings you to the home screen, for example, and swiping right swaps between web pages. You can access a version of Chrome specifically for tablets, which allows you to easily open, close, and reorder tabs with drags, swipes, and large buttons. It’s not quite like using an iPad, but I do think it’s a smoother experience than Windows’s tablet mode (especially in Chrome).

All you have to do to switch in and out of tablet mode is snap the keyboard on and off — it takes a second, and my windows didn’t always quite go back to the way I’d arranged them when I put the keyboard back on, but it’s a reasonably smooth affair overall.

But the CM3 didn’t perform well on every task I needed. Sometimes when I was trying to use Slack or Messenger over a pile of Chrome tabs, something would freeze. Zoom calls were possible — which is more than can be said for some budget Chromebooks — but I did run into lag between audio and video inputs. Slack froze and crashed quite often, and Spotify crashed a few times as well.

Access all kinds of Android apps through the Google Play store.

Photo editing was where I really ran into trouble. Lightroom was basically unusable on the CM3 with just a few things running in the background — I tried to edit a batch of around 100 photos, and could consistently only get through a few before the program crashed. I tried to move over to Google Photos, which also eventually crashed, and ended up having to do everything in Gallery. Of course, not everyone will be editing photos on their Chromebook, or pushing it as hard as I was pushing this one, so it’s a matter of knowing your own needs.

Speaking of Zoom meetings, the dual speakers are okay for Zoom calls but not too much more. The songs I played had stronger percussion than I sometimes hear from laptop speakers, but it was thin and tinny overall. The microphone did seem to work well, and didn’t have trouble picking up my voice on calls.

This was a difficult product to score. I do think the CM3 is a great device. And it does offer a few benefits over the Chromebook Duet that justify it costing a bit more. I’d probably purchase it over the Duet myself for the keyboard alone if I were looking for this type of device — the versatile kickstand, built-in stylus, and decent build quality are nice perks as well.

But “if I were looking for this type of device” is doing some heavy lifting in that sentence. I’m not looking for a MediaTek device, and there’s a reason I’m not. The battery life is impressive, sure, but it’s just not enough horsepower for the workload I need. And if you are someone whose needs are suited to this low-powered processor (and there are plenty of these people in the world), I really think $389 is at the very high end of what you should be spending.

Sure, the CM3 has a (just okay) stylus, a kickstand with a funky fold, slightly better battery life, and one extra port. But it’s also on par with or slower than the Duet in most tasks I tried, the audio is worse, and it’s thicker and heavier. Given all that, I’m not convinced the CM3’s advantages are worth $100 to most people who are shopping in this category.


This $2,700 robot dog will carry a single bottle of water for you

Boston Dynamics isn’t the only company that makes futuristic quadrupedal robots. Chinese firm Unitree Robotics has also been at it for years, and this week revealed its latest creation: the Unitree Go1, a robust-looking four-legged bot that’s remarkably cheap, with prices starting at just $2,700. (For comparison, Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot costs $74,500.)

What is the Go1 for, though? Well, a demo video shows it being put to such useful tasks as “following someone on a run” and “carrying a single bottle of water.” Sure it’s not practical to have a robot butler for your phone and wallet, but it makes a statement on a night out.

More realistically, the robotics industry is still exploring the best applications for these sorts of machines. Spot, for example, is currently being tested in areas like industrial inspections and police reconnaissance (with mixed results). Unitree, though, says it wants to make quadrupedal robots as affordable and popular as smartphones and drones. So, a fun demo reel that shows the Go1 just sort of chilling out and looking cool makes perfect sense.

Incidentally, “hang out without effort” is one of my top desires post-lockdown.
Image: Unitree Robotics

The company only has a basic spec sheet for the robot on its site, but here’s what we do know. The Go1 comes in three versions: the $2,700 Go1 Air, $3,500 Go1, and $8,500 Go1 Edu. Each weighs about 12kg (26 pounds) and the more expensive models come with more processor power and sensors (the Go1 Edu is the only version with an unspecified programming API). It seems automatic person-following and obstacle-avoidance come standard, though only the pricier models hit the advertised top speed of 17km/h. Unitree doesn’t say anything about battery life, either. Though given that Spot only has enough juice for 90 minutes of operation, we’d say that the “all-day companion” mode suggested by the Go1 demo video is a bit of an artful exaggeration.

At any rate, tech like this shows that quadrupedal robots are quickly turning from novelties to commodities. The real question is: can they also be useful, or will they just be carrying our water for years to come.


Apple AirPods Pro review: Silence is golden

(Pocket-lint) – Whether you agree with the polarising design or not, Apple’s AirPods became an overnight phenomenon back in 2017. Since then those in-ear wireless buds have gone on to become the number one sellers in the world – and you only have to head to any city street to see how many people are wearing a pair.

Following the launch of a tweaked second-gen AirPods earlier in 2019, Apple has deemed the headphone popular enough to expand the range with the AirPods Pro. But this isn’t just about offering tweaks; no, it’s a completely redesigned experience, adding active noise-cancellation (ANC) and more.

But with so many in-ear headphone choices on the market, do the AirPods Pro offer a decent package or are you better off going with Bose, Sony, or a myriad of other options? We’ve be wearing them since launch. 

A pro design

  • Each bud: Measures 30.9 x 21.8 x 24mm maximum / Weighs 5.4g
  • Wireless charging case included (45.2 x 60.6 21.7mm / 45.6g)

There are two elements to the AirPods Pro that you need to worry about: in the ear and in the pocket.

The carry case, which doubles as the charging case, is shorter in height but wider in design than the one you’ll find with the original AirPods. It’s still very much just as pocketable, in fact one of the most pocketable in-ear headphones cases on the market, and comes in a gloss white finish. It’s also included as standard.


The AirPods Pro headphones slot into the case and instantly drawn in by magnets and start charging immediately. Charging can be done via a Lightning cable or by putting the case on a wireless charging pad, even the newer MagSafe charging pucks.

The Pro design is considerably different to the AirPods. The most noticeable difference is the inclusion of silicone tips to improve the fit or ‘seal’, while the thin rod that hangs out of your ear isn’t especially long. This short length will certainly appeal to those who thought the originals’ design just looked odd.

Finding your fit

  • Three silicone tip sizes; small, medium, large
  • Vent system for pressure equalization
  • Ear Tip Fit test via iOS 13.2
  • Uses Apple H1 chip

Connecting the AirPods Pro for the first time is incredibly simple. You simply open the case near your iPhone (running iOS 13.2) and press ‘connect’ on the screen. It’s as simple as that thanks to the use of Apple H1 chip – as also found in the AirPods and Beats Powerbeats Pro.

Unlike AirPods, the Pro requires a secondary step, which involves running an Ear Tip Fit Test. Using both the internal and external microphones within the headphones, iOS 13.2 analyses the sound and tweaks its profile to sound better for you.


The process, which involves playing some music, takes about five seconds. It’s during this time that it will determine whether you’ve got a good fit, and if not recommend you change the silicone tip to another size – there is a small, medium, and large options included. For us the medium worked perfectly and we were up and running with a minute.

The silicone tips feel a little tight in the ear – more so than the standard AirPods, but not that they’re uncomfortable – so Apple has included air vents to try and reduce potential pressure and isolation build up. It calls this a “vent system for pressure equalization”, and in all the time we’ve been wearing them they’ve been fine. It doesn’t hurt wearing them for a long period of time, and if you have concerns over whether or not they would be as easy to put in and out as the standard AirPods, they aren’t. 

Active Noise Cancelling (ANC)

  • Internal and external microphones actively listen for noise changes
  • Adaptive EQ and Transparency Mode

One of the main features of the AirPod Pro is ANC, or active noise-cancelling technology. This uses the in-built microphones to check the ambient noise around you over 200 times a second and react accordingly, dumbing down external sound. This is the same process as other noise-cancelling headphones, designed to negate wind tear and other real-time sounds around you as best as possible.

You can also dial-down the feature if you want to hear more around you – a feature called Transparency – which allows you to hear people talking, given the frequency cut-off. This is all controlled via a squeeze of the AirPods Pro, via your iPhone volume control settings, or using the Apple Watch.

We’ve used them on the London Underground, the train, by the sea side, cutting the grass, and on a plane, and in all cases the Pro earbuds cut out the majority of the noise. Classical music fans will no doubt love the Pros, as will those that want to really immerse themselves in the music. 


Switching between the two modes with that squeeze will take a little getting used to, as there’s a specific indented area where you need to squeeze. Precision is key; as is speed: do it too quickly and you’ll stop the track. It’s yet another new control mechanism that you’ve got to learn. Overtime it has become second nature. 

Another interesting side effect is wearing the AirPods Pro while talking. Because of the microphones both internally and externally that are trying to cancel the noise, your own voice is amplified when in Transparency mode. The best way to describe it is akin to speaking into a microphone while wearing headphones to hear yourself. You don’t get that experience when you’re on a call with ANC on, although the silence is somewhat alien if you’re used to hearing lots of noise around you all the time when on a call, and if the environment you are in is loud, we’ve found your voice is cancelled out, according to the person at the other end. Our advice is not to use ANC when talking to people on the phone. 

Music sounds better with you

  • 5 hours battery life / 4.5 hours with ANC enabled
  • Custom high dynamic range amplifier
  • Custom high-excursion Apple driver

We’ve tested the new AirPods Pro with a range of music, from dance tracks from Ministry of Sound, to the Interstellar soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, and everything inbetween from Pink Floyd to Billie Eilish.


What is clear is that the AirPods Pro are considerably better than the standard AirPods and certainly hold their own compared to the competition.

The originals focus of the AirPods was on ease of use rather than amazing sound quality, whereas the AirPods Pro address that latter point espeically when you factor in support for Apple’s Spatial Audio technology that’s now rolled out on Apple Music and is available on both the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max and will be coming to more apps and services later this year with iOS 15. 

Following the launch we’ve been listening to a number of tracks in Spatial Audio. Some tracks are clearly enhanced by the new experience, while others are barely noticeable. When you do notice it though, the results are amazing. The best way we can describe it, is that It’s a bit like 4K on your TV. Some can see the changes instantly and refuse to watch anything else, while others will be more than happy with the HD footage and wonder what the fuss is about. Apple has big plans for Spatial Audio bringing it to everything from FaceTime calls to games. All that’s left is to see whether the industry embraces it and then runs with it. That’s where things will really start to get interesting. 

The Spatial Audio feature also works with movies and that really sings when connected to an iPad or iPhone, especially when it’s been recorded in Dolby Atmos. 

But you don’t need Spatial Audio to enjoy the AirPods Pros. They work perfect well in standard stereo whether that’s listening to music, watching a movie or TV show, or taking a voice call. Sure, the Pro doesn’t come as bass-focused as the PowerBeats Pro, for example, but still certainly delivers a decent sound for what they are. For many they will be more than good enough for commuting, especially once you factor in the ANC performance and when available Spatial Audio. 

Best USB-C headphones for Android phones 2021

By Dan Grabham


We are incredibly impressed with the ease of setup and quality of sound that the AirPods Pro deliver. Active noise-cancellation makes a huge difference to ambient noise, making these in-ears far more capable than the originals, and Spatial Audio enhances the music experience to the “next level”. 

The Pro is more comfortable to wear and better sounding than we were expecting from Apple, too, given the previous AirPods experience.

But with Beats offering the Powerbeats Pro for a smidgen less cash, the AirPods Pro isn’t the only H1 chip-touting in-ear wireless headphones in town. They will be better if you want to be more “active” or are worried that the AirPods Pro will fall out – they shouldn’t but we also know that some people’s ears just aren’t suited to this type of headphone.

And falling out, or should we say taking out, is one of the big advantages here. Popping them in and out of our ears for the last two years has been easy, and if you make a lot of calls, that’s almost worth it on its own. 

The ease of use and great sound, make this a great buy. 

This article was originally published on 29 October 2019 and has been updated to reflect its full review status

Also consider


Beats Powerbeats Pro


Like the sound of active noise-cancellation but want more bass and bigger sound? That’s where Beats comes into play, if you’re willing to pay the extra for the improved quality.

  • Read our review

Writing by Stuart Miles.


Facebook plans first smartwatch for next summer with two cameras, heart rate monitor

Facebook is taking a novel approach to its first smartwatch, which the company hasn’t confirmed publicly but currently plans to debut next summer. The device will feature a display with two cameras that can be detached from the wrist for taking pictures and videos that can be shared across Facebook’s suite of apps, including Instagram, The Verge has learned.

A camera on the front of the watch display exists primarily for video calling, while a 1080p, auto-focus camera on the back can be used for capturing footage when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist. Facebook is tapping other companies to create accessories for attaching the camera hub to things like backpacks, according to two people familiar with the project, both of whom requested anonymity to speak without Facebook’s permission.

The idea is to encourage owners of the watch to use it in ways that smartphones are used now. It’s part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to build more consumer devices that circumvent Apple and Google, the two dominant mobile phone platform creators that largely control Facebook’s ability to reach people.

The planned device is Facebook’s first stab at releasing hardware specifically for the wrist, opening up another area of competition with Apple at a time when the two tech giants are already at odds on other fronts. Apple has aggressively positioned itself as a protector of privacy by limiting the kinds of data that apps like Facebook can collect, while Facebook has for years been besieged by scandals regarding its handling of user data. That dynamic could create an uphill battle for Facebook to convince people to buy its forthcoming Apple Watch competitor, especially since it plans to also position the watch as a fitness device with a heart rate monitor.

Facebook is working with the top wireless carriers in the US to support LTE connectivity in the watch, meaning it won’t need to be paired with a phone to work, and sell it in their stores, the people familiar with the matter said. The watch will come in white, black, and gold, and Facebook hopes to initially sell volume in the low six figures. That’s a tiny sliver of the overall smartwatch market — Apple sold 34 million watches last year by comparison, according to Counterpoint Research.

In future versions of the watch, Facebook is planning for it to serve as a key input device for its planned augmented reality glasses, which Zuckerberg thinks will one day be as ubiquitous as mobile phones. The company plans to use technology it acquired from CTRL-labs, a startup that has demonstrated armbands capable of controlling a computer through wrist movements.

Facebook aims to release the first version of the watch in the summer of 2022 and is already working on second and third generations for subsequent years. Employees have recently discussed pricing the device at roughly $400, but the price point could change. While it’s unlikely, Facebook could also scrap the watch altogether, as the device has yet to enter mass production or even be given an official name.

Facebook’s track record for making hardware is spotty. Its 2013 phone with HTC was a spectacular flop, and it has yet to disclose sales for its Oculus VR headsets or Portal video chat device for the home. In recent interviews, executives have said that sales for the Oculus Quest 2 headset have surpassed all previous Oculus headsets combined.

Facebook’s interest in building a smartwatch dates back at least a few years. It looked at acquiring Fitbit in 2019 before Google bought the fitness wearable maker. Since then, the social network has spent roughly $1 billion to develop the first version of its watch and has hundreds of people working on the effort, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment for this story. The Information earlier reported that Facebook was building a smartwatch with health and messaging features, but details about its cameras and other specifics in this story are new.

Using a custom version of Google’s Android operating system, Facebook plans to lean on its suite of apps and external partnerships to create compelling experiences for the watch, which will include a companion app for phones. Even still, Facebook’s wrist wearable resonating with people is far from guaranteed. Smartwatches with cameras on them have so far failed to catch on, and Apple has cornered the high end of the market already.


Android 12 Beta 2 has a new way of managing Wi-Fi connections

Google has announced that it is rolling out the second beta for Android 12 to Pixel phones today. It adds a few more of the Android 12 features that were announced at Google I/O last month but weren’t included in the first beta. But it also has a couple of newer features, including a new way to manage your internet connection.

In Quick Settings, Android 12 now has a new button called “Internet” that replaces the old Wi-Fi button. Tap it and you’ll get a screen that will let you switch between Wi-Fi networks and also shows your current cellular connection (which you can also toggle).

The new Internet settings in Android 12.
Image: Google

Google says the idea is to help users “switch between their Internet providers and troubleshoot network connectivity issues more easily.” Google’s post asks readers to “Let us know what you think,” a sign that maybe this UX might not be a sure thing. Google often introduces and then backtracks on new user interface ideas during Android betas.

Android 12 is also picking up a “Clipboard read notification,” which will appear any time an app reads the current clipboard. It shows up when one app reads the clipboard from something you’ve copied in another app. In other words, it won’t annoyingly pop up if you copy and paste within the same app. Unlike other notifications, this one will apparently appear from the bottom of the screen. It’s similar to a feature that arrived first on the iPhone, as more people realized that apps were asking for clipboard content when they really shouldn’t be.

Those are the two new features, but there are a few more that Google announced but didn’t include in the first beta. The first is the Privacy Dashboard, which lets a user see how often apps request to use a phone’s microphone, camera, and location. Apple, by the way, just announced a similar dashboard for iOS 15 — though it includes a few more data points than Android’s.

The Privacy Dashboard on Android 12.
Image: Google

Google is also turning on previously announced privacy features related to the microphone and camera. When either is on, an indicator will be displayed in the upper right of the status bar. Android 12 will also now have toggles in Quick Settings to turn those sensors off.

It’s a neat system. If you disable either the mic or the camera in quick settings, the next time an app tries to access one, the system will ask if you want to turn them back on. If you decline, then the app will think it has camera or mic access, but all it actually sees is darkness and all it hears is silence. It is, as I noted in my original Android 12 preview, a mood.

With this release, Google is keeping pace with its roadmap to release Android 12 this fall. Expect a couple more betas to land before the final release. This beta is available on Pixel phones now, and when the final update is released, it’ll hit Pixel phones first. When other phones will get updated remains an open — and vexing — question. Since this version of Android has the biggest redesign in years, don’t be surprised if other smartphone makers need a little more time to figure out how to apply their own styles to the new “Material You” design system.

Android 12 beta timeline.
Image: Google