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You may want to unlock the iPhone 8 with your face, not finger – CNET August 22, 2017

The iPhone 8’s facial recognition is rumored to sense faces in millionths of a second — faster than you can say “cheese.” Source: CNet

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Review: Invisible Browsing VPN

Review: Invisible Browsing VPN

Invisible Browsing VPN (ibVPN) is a brand of Romanian-based firm Amplusnet and has been offering VPN services since 2010.

The company currently offers no less than six products, including a free plan, a Standard VPN ($18.48 per year – which is around £14, AU$25) and Ultimate VPN ($58.06 – that’s £44, AU$77), and specialist plans for torrents and small businesses. The low prices seem attractive, but check the small print and issues soon appear.

The free account is limited to one connection, a single protocol, 10 countries, has only "best effort" speeds and no mobile app. It’s yours for one tweet or Facebook share per year.

The Standard account gives you 90+ servers in 41 countries and supports OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP and SSTP, but it’s still strictly no-torrents, and only gives you a single connection.

The $58 per year Ultimate plan is more like the competition, with 100+ servers in 43 countries, three simultaneous connections, torrent and P2P support, a Chrome extension, mobile apps and more.

There are instructions and apps to help you get the service up and running almost anywhere, and almost 50 payment options, including credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and more.

The trial gives you an extremely limited six hours to try the service out, but you do get a 15-day 100% money-back guarantee, and overall there’s plenty of choice and some value for the less demanding user.

Privacy

IbVPN’s Privacy Policy is a well-designed document which ditches the usual legal jargon, replacing it with short, clear paragraphs which you might actually want to read.

The following, for example, are every single heading and subheading in the policy: Introduction, Information Collected (Logging, Personal Information, Payment, Encryption, Cookies), How We Use Information, Affiliates. It’s writing for people, not lawyers, which is certainly refreshing.

The contents are clear, too. Limited personal information is stored related to user accounts, but it’s not shared with anyone, and the system doesn’t log or have any way to relate web activities to a specific user.

The Terms of Service page is more complex, but we ploughed through it anyway and found a few interesting points.

IbVPN says its products are only for personal use, and may not be used for commercial purposes.

P2P support is limited to a small number of servers only, and you mustn’t "overburden" the service, presumably by using it "too much".

The client blocks SMTP ports 25 and 465 when the service is enabled "to avoid spam from our servers", which could mean you need to reconfigure your email to get it working.

Unusually, the policy says "it is not recommended to use our service for online transactions. In these cases your real IP should be used".

You’re also required to be at least 18 before you can sign up for the service.

Performance

Invisible Browsing VPN’s client has a cluttered interface which makes little attempt to hide its various options and settings. On the main screen alone you have a login section, a choice of active packages, a list of protocols and sub-protocols, a list of available servers, a separate link to see server load, a ‘hide on connection’ option, a check your IP address link, a Show Log option, and – oh, yes – the Connect button.

The settings options cover basics like a ‘connect when Windows starts’ setting and a configurable kill switch (you must choose the applications to close).

There’s also a separate ibDNS switch which enables choosing your own DNS region, perhaps speeding up media streaming.

Once we were using ibDNS, ibVPN correctly passed all our leak tests, giving us a new virtual location on demand.

Performance was mixed in our tests*. Best-case short hop speeds were excellent and well above average, but our connection from the UK to the US was poor, with latency increased by 104%, downloads falling to 36% of normal speeds, and uploads reduced to 19% of our usual rate.

This isn’t necessarily a fatal problem. We tried streaming HD video and although there was a fractional pause just occasionally, it was still very watchable.

Final verdict

All in all, this service is not bad for the price you’re paying. If you can live with the Standard account’s no-torrent, single connection conditions, then it’s a good value choice.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Source: Tech Radar

Review: Hotspot Shield

Review: Hotspot Shield

AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield is a very popular VPN service, best known for its free account.

Hotspot Shield Elite is the £18.95 ($25, AU$33) per year extended edition (£63.95 lifetime plan – that’s $84, AU$112) which drops the ads, supports private browsing, virtual locations, allows "access all content", and supports up to five devices.

The service offers a choice of 20 locations including the US, UK, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Russia, Turkey and Mexico.

There are clients available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and, unusually, Kindle.

The Elite account comes with a 7-day trial, but you must enter your credit card details when you sign up. You’re charged once the trial is over – however, there’s also a 30-day refund option.

Privacy

The official product pages never tell you everything you need to know about a service, so we headed off to the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions pages to uncover the real details. Hotpot Shield doesn’t have the shortest of either of these that we’ve ever seen, but they still do a reasonable job of explaining how the system is run.

There’s not just a blanket "no logging" claim, for instance. Instead it’s explained that personal details such as email addresses and payment information are stored, but not related to your online activities, and any browsing or connection information which might be recorded is deleted when your VPN session closes.

One unusual clause says that "as part of the Service, AnchorFree may install its own certificate on your Device as a Trusted Publisher" – and "AnchorFree reserves the right to make future installs or updates to such certificates on your Device in connection with providing the Service at any time without any notice…"

That isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s certainly more intrusive than most of the competition.

There’s also an age clause, warning that you may not "use the Hotspot Shield Software or the Service if you are under the age of 18".

Performance

Hotpot Shield’s colourful client is compact and straightforward to use. Just click a button to connect, optionally change your location as required, and the system clearly shows when you’re protected.

There are an array of buttons for popular streaming and other sites, including Netflix, YouTube, HBO and Facebook. Clicking any of these immediately opens your default browser at that address.

Hotpot Shield Elite has a very small number of settings. The most important – automatically turning on the product for unsafe Wi-Fi hotspots, and preventing leaks – are turned on by default, so you’re not left with much to do.

IPLeak.net showed that the service hid our IP address and avoided DNS leaks. The WebRTC test showed an IP address belonging to an AnchorFree anonymous proxy. This didn’t expose our identity in any way, but it may have allowed other sites to detect that we were using a VPN and block us accordingly.

The results from our performance tests* were excellent, with latency showing only a marginal 11% increase compared to our normal connection, and both upload and download speeds were a little faster once connected to the VPN (30% and 4%, respectively).

Final verdict

We’d like more configurability and a wider range of locations, but Hotspot Shield Elite’s high speeds and low price give it a lot of appeal, and the 7-day trial makes it easy to test the service for yourself.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Source: Tech Radar

Review: Hola Premium

Review: Hola Premium

Buy a VPN service and you’ll probably expect access to some carefully designed network of managed servers, smartly linked via highly secure protocols to prevent unauthorised access to your traffic.

Hola isn’t like that at all.

The Israeli company describes its offering as a "community powered (Peer-to-Peer) VPN" which routes your traffic through other user’s computers, rather than the usual proxy servers. In theory this can improve anonymity and make it more difficult for Hola to be detected and blocked, although sites like Netflix often manage this anyway.

The service is entirely free for non-commercial use, at least, with no bandwidth or data caps.

One obvious concern is that although you get to use the bandwidth of other Hola nodes, they can also access yours. But Hola says this isn’t as bad as it sounds, because resources are only used when your computer is idle, and the average daily traffic is "less than a 20 second YouTube clip".

What’s more worrying is that if you’re the final node for another Hola user who’s hacking, sending spam or downloading something illegal, your IP address may be recorded as the offender.

You can get around this by upgrading to the $5 (£3.85, AU$6.73) per month Hola Premium, giving access to the network without having to contribute your own bandwidth, but there are still plenty of issues to consider.

Privacy

Hola’s model of routing data through its users has some advantages, but the EULA also reveals problems you might not have considered.

For example, the free service doesn’t just route network traffic, it may also cache information you’ve accessed on your hard drive. We’re unsure how protected this might be, but it still means Hola could leave a level of browsing history on your drive which won’t be removed by normal means.

The $5 (£3.85, AU$6.73) per month Hola Premium doesn’t allow others to use your resources, but it may not be as cheap as it looks. The license covers you per platform only, so if you’re looking to use multiple device types – a PC, a tablet, a phone – you’ll need to pay once for each.

Hola’s EULA also has an unusual clause stating that the service can’t be used "if you are not the owner or approved administrator of the device on which you install the Software or otherwise use the Services."

As usual with these points, we’re not sure how they would know if you didn’t comply, but all this is something to bear in mind.

Performance

Hola doesn’t offer the same system-level PC network changes as other VPNs. Instead, on our test PC we either had to use Hola’s own Chromium-based browser, or its Chrome or Opera browser extensions.

The end result is less about overall privacy, and more about unblocking specific websites. You might visit the site you’d like to use, then open the Hola extension, choose the flag of some other country, and try accessing the site again. This usually worked for us, but in the meantime other web software (or your browser, if you visit other sites) will use your normal IP address.

If the service doesn’t work for you, Hola’s high-level approach means it’s vulnerable to conflicts with a lot of other software. The Hola FAQ suggests fixing problems by disabling "other VPN (Virtual Private Server), proxy software, or other software which might conflict with Hola e.g. IE tab, Avast WebRep, Flash Blocker, NoScript". Not exactly reassuring, or convenient.

As Hola works so differently we were unable to run our usual VPN speed tests. In general terms, we found download performance was usually impressive enough, but ranged from excellent to useless, presumably because there are so many routes your traffic can take.

Final verdict

If you have no budget, and just want to unblock specific sites, Hola’s free account may still look appealing. But it also has major disadvantages, and with Hola Premium’s price barely cheaper than some ‘real’ VPNs, it doesn’t seem like a good deal to us.

Source: Tech Radar

Oracle banks on the cloud, buys NetSuite for $9.3 billion – CNET

​Oracle Corp. today announced the ​purchase of NetSuite Inc. to bolster its software with cloud-computing technology.
Source: CNet

Apple's latest numbers show a huge slowdown in China – CNET

Following a 33 percent drop in revenue, China is no longer Apple’s second biggest market.
Source: CNet

It's official: Apple has sold more than 1 billion iPhones – CNET

CEO Tim Cook says during a company meeting that Apple sold its billionth iPhone last week.
Source: CNet

Review: HideMyAss

Review: HideMyAss

HideMyAss has been a popular provider of VPN services for more than 10 years, but is now owned by AVG Technologies.

The company offers 940+ servers in 350+ locations across 190+ countries, many more than the bulk of the competition.

Load balancing allows HideMyAss to recommend the server with the minimum load in any location, helping to keep your speeds high.

As we write, the HideMyAss website proudly claims that "our VPN software works on all your devices", and "one subscription pays for all". Sounds good, but they’re talking about the ability to use the service on almost any hardware, including smart TVs and games consoles. If you need several simultaneous connections, tough – there’s only support for two.

There’s no free plan or trial, and even the discounted starter prices are a little high: £6.99 ($9, AU$12) per month, £4.99 ($6.50, AU$9) per month paid every 6 months, or £47.88 ($62, AU$84) per year (there’s no Bitcoin option).

You need to check your account carefully, too, because even monthly accounts renew automatically. You can turn off renewal once you know this, but it’s not very obvious. It’s easy to think you’ve cancelled renewal when you really haven’t, and we’ve seen complaints from users who have been caught out.

There is at least a 30-day refund, although that also has some conditions. In particular, it’s only allowed if you’ve used less than 10GB data and had fewer than 100 connections.

Privacy

HideMyAss has more terms, conditions and policies pages than just about any other VPN provider, but if you take the time to read them you’ll find some interesting details.

When you visit a website the company collects your original IP address along with your user name and password, and stores this for up to two years after you’ve closed your account.

Some payment details are also held for two years, and communications with support are stored for up to six months. Live chat details, again including your IP address, are held for months by another company entirely.

Like other services, HideMyAss doesn’t log your web activity. Unlike other services, it logs your incoming IP address and the IP address of the server you’re using. This data is kept for between two and three months – other companies sometimes delete session data as long as the session closes.

There’s no space to discuss every issue here, but you should also know that there’s no telling where this information could be stored – the company only says it may be at "a destination outside the European Economic Area".

Oh, and although HideMyAss doesn’t "sell or rent your personal data to third parties", it may disclose your personal details to "any member of the AVG Group".

Performance

The HideMyAss PC client is focused very much on simplicity. Choose a country or server, connect or disconnect with a click. Reconnect to the same server as required, or set commonly-used servers as favourites for speedy recall later.

The client makes it clear whether you’re connected or not. Desktop notifications ensure you see connects or disconnects as they happen, and your current public IP address is always visible at a glance.

What you don’t get is much configurability or control, in part because the client is so very basic. You don’t get to choose your protocol, for instance, because it only supports VPN (over UDP and TCP).

This approach does at least keep HideMyAss very easy to use, and it’s better at hiding your identity than some of the more powerful services. We found the servers passed all our leak tests without any issue at all.

In our performance tests*, HideMyAss was a touch below average: latency increased by 86%, downloads fell by 44% compared to our normal speeds, and upload speeds were reduced by 71%.

Final verdict

This service’s data collection policies, basic client and relatively high price make it difficult to recommend, but it does give you one of the largest VPN networks around. If that’s your top priority it might just be worth trying.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Source: Tech Radar

Review: Hide.me

Review: Hide.me

EVenture Limited subsidiary Hide.me is a Malaysia-based company which has been providing VPN services since 2011.

Hide.me’s free plan offers a reasonable 2GB data transfer, although the extremely limited server choice (Canada, Netherlands, Singapore), "best effort" bandwidth and one device limit might put you off. Registration requires an email address, too.

The $10 (£7.69, AU$13.46) per month ($65 per year – that’s £50, AU$87.50 – when paid annually) Plus plan offers 29 locations and unlimited bandwidth, but again there are some unexpected limits in a 75GB data cap and (still) a one-simultaneous-connection-only limit.

The $20 (£15.20, AU$26.60) per month ($140 per year – that’s £106, AU$186 – when paid annually) Premium plan finally drops these restrictions, giving you 29 locations, unlimited bandwidth and data, up to five simultaneous connections, and support for port forwarding and a wide range of protocols: PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IPSEC (IKEv1 and IKEv2), OpenVPN, SoftEther.

There are clients for all the main operating systems (Windows, Android, iOS, Mac), setup instructions for anything else, and 24/7 live chat if you need more support.

Payment options are another plus, including Bitcoin, PayPal and many other providers, along with credit cards. There’s also a 14-day refund, though with an important restriction – it won’t apply if you’ve used more than 500MB of data.

Privacy

Hide.me has a strict "no logging, ever" policy, the company claims, saying "our network simply cannot log your information, it is just built that way".

Some details are held to manage your account, but these are relatively minimal: an email address, the amount of monthly data traffic, and a non-persistent log which holds randomly generated user names and internal IP addresses (which is securely erased every few hours). Your name, payment details, email and physical address stay private.

There’s no sharing of data with third parties. The company does use Google Analytics on its website, but even there points out that "to enhance your anonymity, Hide.me have opted to only allow Google to collect only a portion of the IP address".

Hide.me does say that it will comply with court orders received by recognised legal authorities with jurisdiction over them. But as this is a Malaysian company, that may not apply very often, and even when it does the logs won’t show very much.

Performance

Hide.me’s PC client is compact and well-designed. You’re able to connect to the best server with a click, the list of alternative servers is immediately on view, and status information about your current IP address and location is always visible.

The Settings dialog is also very well-judged. The opening tab displays the main application and connection settings (Launch on startup, remember selected location, reconnect automatically, prevent DNS leaks). Experts get far more low-level control than with most of the competition (DNS servers, custom MTU, UDP/TCP and port choices for OpenVPN), but there’s still an effort to help others. The client doesn’t just give you a choice of IKEv2, OpenVPN, SSTP and PPTP protocols, for instance – it has a few words describing the value of each one.

There are also extra touches you won’t always see elsewhere. A Limit Connectivity feature optionally disables local network connectivity while the VPN is active, and the kill switch limits connectivity entirely if the VPN drops.

In our performance tests* Hide.me was impressive, with the service actually accelerating our regular download speeds by 1%. Latency was increased by 86%, though, and uploads were down by 61% compared to our normal speeds, but overall the service still clearly stood out from the crowd as a nifty performer.

Hide.me passed our privacy tests, too, properly cloaking our online activities at all times.

Final verdict

Hide.me is a solid, reliable and likeable service, especially if you can live with the Plus plan’s 75GB data cap. If you need unlimited data then it becomes a little expensive, and you might want to look elsewhere.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Source: Tech Radar

Oculus' mini-Pixar teases next VR film experience: You play a (bit) part – CNET

Oculus Story Studio, founded by vets of Disney’s animation giant, hints its next project will experiment with letting you touch the story.
Source: CNet

Review: ExpressVPN

Review: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a small British Virgin Islands-based provider of VPN services.

The company’s products are eye-wateringly expensive, from the $12.95 (£9.96, AU$17.43) for a one-off month option to the $99.95 (£77, AU$135) plan for annual payments.

We browsed the feature list looking for an explanation, but couldn’t really find one. Sure, the 130+ servers in 87 countries is welcome, and there’s a Linux client as well as Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, along with 24/7 live chat support if you have problems. But ExpressVPN also limits you to three connections rather than the five you’ll often get elsewhere, and overall there are better specified (and cheaper) products around.

There’s no free plan or trial, either, although ExpressVPN does provide a "no-hassle money-back guarantee" – you can cancel your order within 30 days and you’ll get a full refund.

The company also has a simple referral scheme which can help reduce costs. If you get a friend to sign up, and they give your email address during the order process, you both get a free month.

Privacy

As with many other VPNs, ExpressVPN places a limit on the number of simultaneous connections it allows: only three (desktop PC, tablet and phone, two tablets and a desktop, or whatever).

The company also explicitly points out that its licences are for a single user only. In particular, the terms of service say: "If you require access for multiple users, you should purchase a new license for each additional user"; and: "Simultaneous logins from a single license by more than one individual user are prohibited". We’re not sure how the company would know this, but it does mean this isn’t a product for family use.

Elsewhere, the company explains reassuringly that it doesn’t collect or log traffic data or browsing data from users.

There is some general meta-logging, with the company recording the days when you access its service, the server locations and the total amount of data transferred per day. But this is standard practice and certainly not a deal-breaker.

Performance

ExpressVPN does its very best to get you set up correctly, with easy-to-use apps for all your main devices, and an array of setup instructions for everything else (Apple TV, Kindle Fire, PlayStation, Xbox, MediaStreamer, and more).

Our PC client provided several ways to help choose a location. A Recommended tab highlights local and fast servers; the Favourites tab lists recently-connected servers and any you’ve set as favourites, and the Location Picker organises servers by continent, region and country.

This is all very simple and straightforward, but there are also a few extras hidden away, including a Speed Test module, diagnostics report, kill switch, and manual or automatic selection of protocol (OpenVPN, L2TP – IPSEC, PPTP, SSTP).

Our privacy tests showed good results, with specific DNS leak protection ensuring our identity was protected at all times.

ExpressVPN achieved mixed results in our performance tests*. Latency was up by 75% when using the service, and upload speeds were only 20% of our regular rates, but downloads hit a very usable 91% of normal speeds, good enough for streaming, downloads or simple browsing.

You might expect more than "good enough" at this price, of course.

Final verdict

ExpressVPN has a great client and a wide choice of locations, and if that’s important, take advantage of the free trial to check it out for yourself. But if it’s value for money you’re after there are significantly better deals elsewhere.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we’ve reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.

Source: Tech Radar

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