Computers

Apple debuts macOS 11 Big Sur

Redesigned UI, better Safari, and more features to expect

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At WWDC 2020, Apple introduced new software coming to its users this fall. On the iPhone front, the company announced the iOS 14. Meanwhile, iPad users can expect an improved iPadOS to come to their devices. Then, there’s macOS 11 Big Sur — an entirely new version to mark a big change to Apple’s beloved OS.

Redesigned from the ground up

macOS didn’t simply bump up to version 11 for nothing. This fall, macOS users will welcome a brand-new version with a redesigned interface. Everything from the dock up to the persistent menu bar gets a redesign that reminds users of iOS.

At first boot, users can expect redesigned icons with new consistent shapes. All apps get a refresh too, and Apple says that the new design will help users find content faster and easier.

The Control Center is also coming to the macOS. Users can now tweak the brightness, volume, and other system settings on the fly.

Apple reworked the Notification Center to mimic the Today View present in iOS and macOS. Notification widgets are also customizable now, and users can select from three sizes.

Safari and other apps get a revamp

Safari got its biggest update in years with macOS 11. It now has a revamped design that falls in line with macOS 11’s design language. The new tab page is now customizable, and users can set their own backgrounds. Tabs also show a preview when a user hovers above the tab list.

Under the hood, Apple says that they have improved the performance of Safari. The company touts 50 percent faster performance than Chrome. Battery run times have also been improved, and users can expect three more hours of battery life compared to other browsers.

Extensions also got a revamp with the new Safari. Users can expect a wider range of extensions with support for WebExtensions API. Plus, the browser also gets a language translation feature. And for the privacy-conscious users, there’s a new privacy report which shows all the trackers blocked by Safari.

Other apps that get a significant revamp include Messages and Maps. Apple is bringing inline replies, Memoji stickers, and message effects right into the app. Search is much more powerful, and users can now pin their existing conversations.

As for Maps, Apple is bringing its “Guides” feature which is also present in iOS 14. Look Around — Apple’s alternative to Google Street Maps — is also landing on the Maps app for macOS 11. Plus, users can get the most out of their commute with new cycling and EV route options.

Under the hood, macOS 11 introduces new performance features that shall allow for faster software updates. Users can also expect new privacy labels on the macOS App Store.

Transition to in-house silicon design

Perhaps the biggest change coming to macOS 11 Big Sur is the one that users can’t directly see. The new macOS marks a paradigm shift for Apple as it undertakes a major transition from using Intel-based silicon to in-house silicon designs.

As such, macOS 11 also introduces new utilities under the hood to help users in the transition. For developers, they will now be able to build apps that target the iPhone, iPad, and Macs without much effort. Also, this means that users will be able to run iOS apps on a Mac for the first time.

Apple announced a two-year transition period from Intel to its own silicon design. During that time period, users can still expect the company to ship new Intel-based Macs. For those eager to try Apple’s silicon on a Mac, they can do so with new hardware coming by the end of 2020.

Availability

macOS 11 Big Sur is coming this fall for all Macbook and Mac users. It will support a lengthy list of devices, and users can try it out on their system with a public beta this July.

Computers

Alleged Windows XP source code leaks online

Source code of other legacy OS from Microsoft leaked too

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The alleged source code of Windows XP just leaked recently on various platforms online. This huge leak contains everything and reveals some interesting tidbits about the beloved OS.

However, it remains unclear if it’s real or not. The anonymous leaker first posted the source code as a torrent on the popular forum site, 4chan.  The torrent file is a massive undertaking, clocking in at 43GB overall.

It is worth mentioning that the torrent file doesn’t only include the source code for Windows XP. Source codes for MS DOS 3.30, 6.0, Windows 2000, CE 3, CE 4, CE 5, Windows Embedded 7, CE, Windows NT 3.5 and Windows NT 4 are also included. The leaker says that two months were spent compiling all of them.

A smaller 3GB file also exists which only contains the source code for the Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The leaker states that hackers have had access to the Windows XP source code for years, and this leak marks the first time it was released to the public.

Interestingly enough, the source code leaks also contain conspiracy theory videos about Bill Gates. MacRumors also pointed out that Microsoft thought about imitating the signature look of macOS way back when it still sported a skeuomorphic design.

Microsoft has already responded to the leaks, saying that they’re “investigating the matter”.

A threat to users?

The leaked source code presents an opportunity for hackers to learn more about Windows’ operating systems. Windows 10 actually has some bit and pieces of Windows XP code.

Savvy hackers can exploit this code to gain access to Windows 10. This threat is feasible, but the risk is low for now. After all, Windows 10 sees continuous development from Microsoft, with legacy code being replaced or modified after updates.

Source: Bleeping Computer via MSPowerUser 

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Computers

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD review: Cheap yet superb

A Singaporean brand that deserves more attention

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Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Admit it, the pandemic is making us buy things we don’t need. At the same time, we also bought essentials to boost our productivity when working inside our rooms. In the past few months, a lot of us went under a WFH (work from home) setup — which also meant greater demands for consumer tech products such as laptops, PC rigs, keyboards, mouse, and even monitors.

As GadgetMatch’s Associate Creative Producer, I needed a large monitor that’s not too pricey yet delivers the top three features that I need: color accuracy, viewing angles, fast refresh rate.

After lending some of my time for thorough online shopping, comparing, and research, I went with Armaggeddon’s Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD monitor.

Armaggeddon may not be familiar to most of you. They’re a Singaporean brand that offers a wide array of computing products and gaming peripherals.

Ultra slim and bezel-less

What I first liked about Armaggeddon’s Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD is its design. The massive 23.8-inch display almost feels like it’s floating because of the zero bezel design or what they call the “Infinity Frame”. Other monitors of the same price look bland with their plastic black frame and stand.

Armaggeddon’s logo may not be as distinct from afar but the silver emblem is a nice complement to the monitor’s brushed metal bottom bezel.

Its sides are truly ultra thin. The only thick part is at the bottom, which houses the monitor’s internals and holds the hefty metal monitor stand in place. Side-tilting isn’t supported but it can be tilted upwards or downwards at around +15/-5-degrees.

To make it more reliable, this monitor also supports a 75×75 VESA mount for better desk setups.

Ports and cables

You get the usual port selections here. Out of the box, there’s an included 12V cable that powers the monitor through the DC port.

There’s also a bundled HDMI cable that you can connect via the HDMI port. This port is used for PC rigs, Playstation or Xbox consoles, and laptops that support it. There’s even an extra VGA port for older PC and laptops configurations with less fancy resolution output.

What you don’t get is a DisplayPort (DP) and an Optical Audio Output — which might be a dealbreaker for some of you. There’s also no room for USB-C port since having one would add more to its cost. For my part, I just use a Bluetooth speaker for loud music sessions or a pair of wireless earbuds when I’m editing.

Cable management is a little tricky though as it doesn’t include clips for fixing those cluttered cables behind the monitor.

Real IPS panel

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

There are different types of monitors out there that are being sold around the same price. You may have heard of them before: TN and VA panels are the most common in the list. They’re cost-efficient especially because they feature less bright and desaturated panels. But what made me choose the Armaggeddon PF24HD is the inclusion of a real IPS panel.

Just like in your smartphones, IPS displays offer excellent colors, contrast, and viewing angles. These are display features I’ve said from the very beginning that I need for the type of work I do.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Yes. I’m still not over Ko Mun Yeong and Moon Gang Tae

For what its worth, the display is excellent. Colors pop while there’s little to no degradation when you look at the monitor even at the narrowest viewing angle. Other advertised “IPS” monitors I found online were just re-configured TN/VA panels with poor viewing angles and color accuracy. It’s not a good thing to fool customers with product misinformation.

With my desk setup facing parallel to the window, screen glare is unavoidable. But with PF24HD’s bright panel, it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. I even adjusted the monitor’s brightness from 70 down to just 40 because it’s just too bright for me.

In my case, my IPS panel doesn’t suffer from severe “backlight bleeding” that shows brighter areas near the edges among most IPS panels. A built-in Anti blue-light filter also comes handy to protect your eyes when using it.

True 75Hz refresh rate

During my time of comparing, I noticed that other popularly-branded IPS panels of the same price only feature a modest 60Hz refresh rate. Meanwhile, faster refresh rates of 75Hz and 144Hz are available but they feature TN or VA panels — which is a deal breaker for me (and if you were paying attention earlier, you already know why they’re not advisable for creative tasks).

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Having Armaggeddon’s 75Hz IPS panel is a true feat. I first tried it on macOS Catalina and I haven’t experienced any hassle after connecting my MacBook through the HDMI port. It’s automatically set to the highest refresh rate available.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

I was also able to run both of my MacBook Pro and eGPU through Windows 10 Bootcamp. Although this one is more of a complicated process before it actually detects and runs the external GPUs, the monitor detection together with its higher refresh rate setting worked for my case.

If you have a PC setup or a Windows laptop, I think you shouldn’t worry as your device will automatically detect the monitor through HDMI port.

Photo and video editing

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

The main reason why I bought an external monitor is to maximize my screen workspace. Even if my 15-inch MacBook Pro displays a higher resolution while this 24-inch monitor only supports 1080p Full HD, it significantly improved my workflow when editing our YouTube videos through the latest update of Final Cut Pro. That added space for color correction, transition, and effects tab as well as the inspector and nearby windows really helped me work faster.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Other than that, I was able to post-process these shots for my Nike Air Max 720 review with ease. This is where color accuracy comes into play. Armaggeddon PF24HD’s IPS panel together with its 100% sRGB support helped in displaying the shot’s correct color information.

To maximize the monitor’s contrast ratio, I then changed the screen calibration. On macOS, I adjusted it through System Preferences > Displays > Color and set it to Apple RGB profile to show deeper grays and blacks and better red hues as well.

If that’s not enough, there’s also a contrast adjustment setting through the monitor’s native menu accessible via its joystick at the back.

Gaming

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

Gaming on a Mac was possible thanks to this fast 75Hz monitor. As said a while ago, I was able to run the MacBook Pro and eGPU configuration through Windows 10 Bootcamp drive. That gave me the ability to play GTA V (Grand Theft Auto V) at high graphics settings without any stutters and lags.

The monitor’s 75Hz monitor also worked like a charm. Having an AMD Radeon graphics card helped a lot especially because the monitor features AMD Freesync without the need for a DisplayPort.

Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD

“Why is he playing Call of Duty: Mobile with such gaming setup?” — well, I know what you’re thinking. By installing GameLoop, I was able to test out CoDM with max graphics settings available. I know it’s a smartphone game but trust me, running it on a large 75Hz monitor is a feast for the eyes.

Its 5ms response time might not be as responsive as other 1/2ms-rated monitors but it’s ultra responsive especially when aiming and hitting opponents in the game.

A lot of users are hyping up curved monitors for a “greater” playing experience, but I oppose. The flat display with a 178-degree viewing angle still does the job of keeping you immersed when playing.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

In a sea full of well-known monitor brands, it’s hard to tell which relatively unknown brand delivers a better display quality at a reasonable price. Armaggeddon, being Singapore-based, gave me a huge assurance and relief. Not that I don’t support Chinese products but it’s hard to rely on products with negative reviews about false advertisements.

I’ve been using this monitor for more than a month now and it’s definitely worth your hard-earned money. If you’re like me who’s a creative that needs a reliable 75Hz IPS monitor on a budget, this is definitely one of, if not the, best options out there.

If you’re someone who’s planning to build a gaming setup with a limited budget on peripherals, this is also a great purchase especially with its fast refresh rate and response time.

In Singapore, you can buy the Armaggeddon Pixxel+ Pro PF24HD with a discounted price of just SG$ 169 that comes with a free BT150 soundbar. If you live in the Philippines, it’s being sold for just PhP 5,990 through a local distributor‘s Shopee page.

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Windows 10 touch keyboard is getting GIFs, updated emoji picker

And new Voice Typing!

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Have you tried using Windows 10’s touch keyboard on your laptop or tablet? Laptops have a handy physical keyboard, but an increasing number of users rely on the software option while using devices like the Surface Pro. To make the Windows 10 experience cooler, Microsoft is rolling out a few nifty features.

The new touch keyboard is based on the company’s work with Windows 10X, bringing in better animations, sounds, and GIF support. Microsoft is calling it WonderBar, which sounds very similar to Mac’s Touch Bar but is limited to the on-screen keyboard only.

It also includes the ability to move the cursor through the space bar on the touch keyboard. A similar setup is found on iOS for cursor navigation and even BlackBerry 10 relied on this feature for a better typing experience.

The user can also search and insert GIFs directly from the keyboard, a feature that has now become mainstream on Android keyboards. There’s also an updated emoji picker which can be activated via the Winkey + period.

Microsoft is working on implementing a Fluent Design system that’ll bring together emoji search, GIF support, and your clipboard history. Lastly, the company is working on a new dictation system called Voice Typing. It has been completely revamped with a new design, auto punctuation, and an updated backend.

The changes are currently rolling out via Windows Insider Dev Channel and may not show up for all testers. The update is expected to roll out publicly in the first half of 2021 for Windows 10.

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