Inside iPhone 8: Apple’s A11 Bionic introduces 5 new custom silicon engines — Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip used in iPhone 8 and the upcoming iPhone X packs in an array of processing cores and sophisticated controllers, each optimised for specific tasks. We only know a bit about these, let alone what else is packed into this SoC. Here’s a look at the new Apple GPU, Neural Engine, its 6 core CPU, NVMe SSD controller and new custom video encoder inside the package.
Apple’s first internally-designed GPU, built into the A11 Bionic Application Processor, claims to be 30 percent faster than the Imagination-based GPU used in iPhone 7 models–which was already the leading graphics architecture in smartphones. First iPhone 8 teardown reveals few internal design changes. iPhone 8 has survived a harsh scratch and bend test in a new Apple video.
iPhone 8 Plus best performing smartphone camera ever, iPhone X expected to be better. Apple says it studied famous painters & photographers for Portrait Lighting on iPhone X & 8 Plus – Apple looked at lighting by photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon – and painters like Johannes Vermeer – when building the Portrait Lighting feature found on the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus, the company claimed in an interview published on Friday, coinciding with the launch of the iPhone 8 line.
Apple’s new video ad is 8 things to love about iPhone 8, looking to hook viewers on its latest smartphone, shipping today. After decade of iPhone launches, there was still a line in San Francisco. This unboxing shows all three colours of iPhone 8.
Inside iOS 11 — iOS 11 rocketed to over 65 of internet usage in just two days after launch, according to independent web analytics company StatCounter. Its research arm StatCounter Global Stats finds that iOS 11 reached 6.2% of all iOS versions worldwide Wednesday. iOS 11 has some big changes for iPhone and iPad users, one of which involves the photos we take thanks to HEIF, an image format supported by both iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra.In older versions of the operating system our photos were saved as JPEG, but in iOS 11 they’re saved as HEIF.
HEIF (for high efficiency image format) is an image file format that offers some advantages over JPEG. Image files are about half the size of comparable JPEG images and compared to the same shots saved in the older format are higher quality, too.
Apple debuted a new safety feature in iOS 11 with Do Not Disturb While Driving. AppleInsider corralled a co-pilot to test it out – here’s how it works. (Even if not connected to a car, it can detect that the car is moving, and enable the feature accordingly. Regardless, CarPlay functionality stays live. Navigation and music playback still work.)
iOS 11 has a new one-hand keyboard option for iPhone that lets you do exactly what it says: type with just one hand. It’s easy to get at, but a little confusing why you may not see it.
The best ARKit apps you can download now on iOS 11 — One of the most hyped features of Apple’s new iOS 11 update is ARKit, a series of tools for developers that make it easier than ever to create augmented reality apps. with ARKit apps now available on the App Store, AppleInsider gives you some of the best options you can test out right now.
Apple donates $1 million to earthquake recovery efforts in Mexico — In a Twitter post, Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company is donating US$1 million toward earthquake recovery efforts in Mexico. The company has also donated to hurricane recovery efforts in Texas and Florida.
The intriguing design of The Steve Jobs Theater explained —Author Cybart had a close-up look at the Steve Jobs Theater when he attended Apple’s September 12 event. His very detailed and revealing article includes photos from Apple and himself as well as a side-view schematic of the underground layout.
Imagination Technologies sells to China-backed equity firm for 550 million pounds — Canyon Bridge, an equity firm backed by Chinese fund Yitai Capital, on Friday announced an agreement to acquire British chipmaker, and soon-to-be-former Apple partner, Imagination Technologies. The sales is contingent on the completion of a separate sale involving MIPS, Imagination’s US unit.
Apple extends iTunes movie rental viewing window to 48 hours —To coincide with the launch of Apple TV 4K and iPhone 8 series, Apple on Friday updated its website with new information regarding movie rentals, saying viewers now have up to 48 hours to complete their rented titles after first pressing play.
iPhone 8 is available — It’s here in New Zealand, available to buy. As Apple says, it has “The most durable glass ever in a smartphone, front and back. A colour‑matched, aerospace-grade aluminium band. New space grey, silver and gold finishes.”
You can buy it from the usual places or direct from Apple, (call 0800-692-7753).
If you get to get rid of your old iPhone in favour of a new one, here’s how. If you’d rather wait for the break-the-bank iPhone X, Mujo already has bespoke leather cases ready for them.
Inside iOS 11: Apple’s new one-handed keyboard allows for easier typing —Although most recent iPhones aren’t as friendly to one-handed users as the iPhone SE, Apple’s new iOS 11 does offer a special one-handed keyboard that compresses buttons into one corner of the screen. Here’s how to use it. The iOS 11 Cover Sheet mimics the lock screen and foretells swipe up to unlock for iPhone X. The launch of iOS 11 brings about a convergence of the iPhone’s Notification Center and Lock Screen for a new feature called Cover Sheet. Presenting a user’s notifications and other events, the feature also offers a glimpse at how the new home-button-free iPhone X will work when it debuts in November. It has quick screen recording comes right inside Control Center, invoked through a command in the overhauled Control Center interface. You add this via the Customise ability.
The iOS 11 App Store renovation for iPhone and iPad was inspired by Apple Music, and has speed enhancements and new multitasking feature. This has been showcased in new ads.
Looking for more ARKit Apps? There’s a new App Store Section for that — Apple’s revamped App Store in iOS 11 aims to improve discoverability, and that’s good news if you’re on the hunt for more apps that show off what you can do with augmented reality.
You can still restore iOS apps from your hard drive — There are still a couple of options to let you restore iOS apps from your hard drive. Yes, Apple has taken away much of our ability to manage apps in iTunes 12.7. However, that doesn’t mean all of your IPA files are worthless. In fact, you can even still use iTunes to load them onto your devices.
How to ditch bad Wi-Fi info so Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular has better connectivity — The Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE has a bug related to how it decides to stay on shoddy Wi-Fi, or shift to LTE. This can be remedied somewhat by cleaning up your known networks and not connecting to the some bad Wi-Fi hotspots in the first place: here’s how to do it.
OWC unveils new USB-C Travel Dock — OWC has announced the OWC USB-C Travel Dock, which lets you connect its integrated USB-C cable to a Mac or PC laptop or other computer to utilise its five ports of mobile connectivity from a dock small enough to fit in a pocket.
The included USB-C cable provides connectivity to the dock’s five ports (2xUSB 3, 1xUSB-C, HDMI, SD card) for USB devices users need when travelling. It provides connectivity to USB devices through two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports to connect and power two USB devices, so users can have a full tablet and/or phone charge at all times. An HDMI port connects one 4K display, and an SD card slot allows users to access and store photos with one connection. [This has, in other words, a similar form factor to the Moshi symbus, without Ethernet but with the addition of an SD card reader.] It costs US$50, comes in four colours and is standalone (no additional power supply).
Office Time for macOS — Office Time for the Mac (as well as iOS and watchOS devices) makes sure none of those valuable dollars and cents slip through your fingers, and more importantly helps you bill that to a third party. It starts off as a general time tracking program. Office Time costs US$47 (about NZ$65).
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi aren’t full disabled when turned off in iOS 11’s Control Center — Apple says that when you toggle the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth buttons in Control Center, your device will immediately disconnect from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth accessories but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will continue to be available, so you can use AirDrop, AirPlay, the Apple Pencil, the Apple Watch, Continuity features (such as Handoff and Instant Hotspot), and Locations services. [Presumably AirPlane Mode still works as it should.]
AirPlay 2 on existing speakers requires a firmware update, support for Apple’s AirPort Express unknown — The upcoming launch of AirPlay 2 comes with a caveat: old hardware will need a firmware update, at the very least, to work with the new protocol. With Apple said to have ceased development on its router products, it’s possible that AirPort Express owners using AirPlay could be left in the dust. [No!! I use this all the time!]
First ARKit apps hit App Store, including Strava’s Fitness AR and room dimensioning app PLNAR —With the release of iOS 11 on Tuesday, iPhone and iPad owners will see a flood of augmented reality titles hit the App Store thanks to Apple’s introduction of ARKit. Fitness tracking app maker Strava and room dimensioning title PLNAR [which needs something more powerful than an iPhone 6] are among the first to take advantage of the specialised API.
Apple sets new 150MB ceiling for over the air App Store downloads — To go along with Tuesday’s big iOS 11 release, Apple announced a change in App Store policy that allows users to download apps up to 150 megabytes in size when connected to a cellular network, up from a previous cap of 100MB.
Procreate 4 delivers drag and drop, Files app support, other iOS 11 enhancements — One of the App Store’s best third-party illustration apps, Procreate, received a massive update on Tuesday with an all-new imaging engine and iOS 11-specific features like drag and drop, Files app support and more.
Belkin rolls out 3.5mm Audio + Charge RockStar Lightning adapter for iPhones without a headphone jack — The new 3.5mm Audio + Charge RockStar allows Lightning-only devices to plug in headphone jack audio devices and a source of power or data and use both at the same time. The Lightning port allows for not just power, but data synchronisation as well.
Apple issues a statement on Apple Watch Series 3 cellular connection issues — Early reviewers for publications including The Verge and The Wall Street Journal have expressed connectivity issues with the Apple Watch Series 3, which will be available this Friday. Apple has issued a statement about the issue.
Syntronik is IK’s new synthesiser app that features the sound of “the most iconic machines to ever grace the planet” — Syntronik comprises 17 powerful virtual synths recreating the legendary sonic signature of 38 of the most sought-after classic analog synthesizers and string machines ever created, recognisable by their elegantly designed, easy-to-navigate interfaces. It’s a free app, which includes 25 instrument sounds from 17 synths, but Syntronik Full, which offers a more comprehensive experience, has introductory pricing of US$39.99 – this is available as an in-app purchase. Individual synths are also available via in-app purchase for US$9.99 each.
Tim Cook issues strongest language yet regarding DACA, supporting DREAMers — Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated his stance against DACA’s elimination in what is possibly his most candid and firmest statement on the matter since he first spoke on the matter.
“This is unacceptable, this is not who we are as a country,” Cook said at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum on Wednesday morning regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order’s pending elimination. “I am personally shocked that there’s even a discussion on this. It’s not a political thing, at least I don’t see it that way at all. It’s about basic human decency and respect.”
Apple’s Lisa Jackson criticises Trump EPA for lack of transparency — Apple VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson in an interview on Tuesday said the Environmental Protection Agency, which she led from 2009 to 2013, is under threat from President Donald Trump’s administration for a seeming lack of transparency.
Apple updates Pages, Numbers, Keynote with iOS 11 features — Following Tuesday’s release of iOS 11, Apple has updated its iWork suite of productivity apps to better take advantage of the new operating system’s features, with iPad-centric support for drag and drop, multitasking and more. Pages has a redesigned document manager for streamlined access to files stores in iCloud Drive and third-party cloud service providers. The word processor is also compatible with the new Files app, a central hub for local and cloud-based documents, images and more.
Apple’s Numbers receives many of the same iOS 11 changes with support for drag and drop, multitasking and the new Files app. Numbers also benefits from unspecified performance and stability improvements.
Apple’s Keynote update focuses on basic iOS 11 compatibility, with release notes for the software mentioning the redesigned document manager, drag and drop, multitasking and support for the Files app. Like its iWork stablemates, Keynote touts new shape and object commands, as well as performance and stability improvements.
Apple issues Safari 11 update for macOS Sierra & OS X El Capitan —Though it’s included by default with the upcoming macOS High Sierra, Apple on Tuesday released Safari 11 for macOS Sierra and OS X El Capitan, giving people early access to the finished browser’s features.
The update – available through the Mac App Store – prevents audio from auto-playing on “most” websites, according to Apple. Users can also configure things like auto-play, content blockers, and Reader on a per-site basis, or make settings universal.
The browser also includes performance boosts, new controls for HTML audio and video, and better AutoFill accuracy when pulling data from Contacts.
Apple updates TestFlight & Swift Playgrounds for iOS 11’s new tech — In conjunction with the release of iOS 11, Apple has also released new versions of TestFlight and Swift Playgrounds, redesigning the former’s interface and adding an things like an Augmented Reality challenge to the latter.
OmniFocus update exploits powerful new features in iOS 11 — The latest version from the Omni Group updates for iOS 11 compatibility, but also takes advantages of changes to Siri and adds drag and drop.
How to find the 32-bit apps on your iPhone or iPad that won’t work in iOS 11 at all — The day has come: Apple will disallow 32-bit apps from running on iOS 11. If you haven’t updated because of worries of incompatibility, AppleInsider shows you how to identify which apps installed on your iPhone are 32-bit allowing you to decide if you want to upgrade or wait.
Fun in PCalc — A new update for the app uses iOS 11’s ARKit feature to bring augmented reality into your number-filled world. Just tap the info button on the calculator keypad, choose Help, then tap About PCalc. Once you see the floating 42 badge tap anywhere on the screen to bring up the AR controls so you can throw marbles, dice, and bananas into your virtual world.
Apple launches tvOS 11 for Apple TV, adding live news & sports in TV app —As promised Apple on Tuesday released the finished version of tvOS 11, build 15J381, an update for fourth-generation Apple TVs that brings mostly evolutionary improvements, the most significant being groundwork for live news and sports features in the TV app. Apple has rolled out tvOS 11 with AirPlay 2, which offers multi-room audio support. It also includes the ability to automatically switch between light and dark interface modes.
TV availability in tvOS spreading — Apple began the rollout of TV app in Australia, Canada ahead of iOS 11 & tvOS 11 debut. tvOS 11 release, which will deliver the one-stop streaming hub to seven additional countries later this year. Apple is expanding availability of the TV app to seven countries — Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway and the UK — by the end of 2017.
Apple TV owners running the latest tvOS software in Australia [which may include NZ, does anyone know? Since NZ is administered mostly from Sydney] and Canada discovered the TV app, or at least its icon, on their home screen earlier today and took to Twitter to note the the change. On fourth-generation Apple TV units, the TV app seems to be a placeholder instead of a functional app, but its presence hints at an imminent release likely timed to coincide with tomorrow’s iOS 11 and tvOS 11 launch. The TV app acts as a central hub for browsing, discovering and managing streaming content across a variety of providers and owned media.
Apple launches watchOS 4 for Apple Watch with improved Activity & Workout tracking, revamped Music app, Siri watch face —The Apple Watch interface has been refined and improved with today’s launch of watchOS 4, including a new vertically scrolling app dock, the ability to view installed apps in a list view instead of grid, and new watch faces including a Siri smart assistant and characters from the iconic “Toy Story” films.
watchOS 4 no longer lets you browse iPhone music library on your Apple Watch —In a major change to how the Apple Watch operates, users can no longer browse their iPhone’s music library after updating to watchOS 4, and instead can only view songs stored on the watch itself.
The future Mac games that have Ric Molina excited — Sometimes, there are simply too many Mac games to cover! Believing that nothing is going on with Mac gaming because no one mentions anything would be a shame. To remedy that, here’s an overview of the most exciting Mac games he’s discovered recently: SteamWorld Dig 2 (coming September 22nd), for example, is a platform mining adventure about digging deep, gaining riches, and exploring an underworld filled with dangers. [Yay, let’s warm someone else’s planet!] And there are more: Tropico 6, Tannenberg, Pillars of Eternity II and Sociable Soccer.
LineUp, LineUp Pro are new basketball stat apps for macOS — StatGeek has announced Lineup and Lineup Plus for the Mac. They allow users to produce advanced basketball statistics along with statistics on 5-man groups, 2-man groups and 3-man groups in seconds.
Demand for Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular stronger than expected, taking 80%+ of preorders — With a starting price just US$70 more than the non-cellular option, the new Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular accounts for the lion’s share of preorders ahead of this Friday’s launch.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed on Monday he estimates that the LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 has accounted for between 80 and 90% of preorders. Apple began accepting orders last Friday, and the first shipments will arrive later this week, on September 22nd.
As of Monday, new orders for the Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular are estimated to ship in 3 to 4 weeks. The non-cellular models, however, arrive as soon as October 2nd.
W2 chip in Apple Watch Series 3 boosts wireless speeds while maintaining battery life — One of the things Apple briefly touched on in announcing the Apple Watch Series 3 last week was the W2, a new self-designed wireless chip that’s nominally the successor to the W1 found in audio accessories like AirPods and the Powerbeats3. But what advantages does it offer, and why is it in a watch instead?
Chinese developers file complaint about Apple’s ‘unreasonable’ 4.3 Review Guideline — On August 8th, Daxiao, a Chinese law firm, lodged a complaint with the Chinese government about Apple removing apps from its App Store without a detailed explanation of its unreasonable 4.3 Review Guideline. There are more than 31 developers complaining about Apple’s “unreasonable” 4.3 App Store Review Guideline, says Xu Yun, a lawyer at the Chinese Fair-In law firm.
With iPhone 8, Apple’s Silicon Gap widens as the new A11 Bionic obliterates top chips from Qualcomm, Samsung & Huawei — Official benchmarks posted by Geekbench show that Apple’s A11 Bionic delivers a huge jump in performance over last year’s A10 Fusion used in iPhone 7, with scores that are not just far beyond other mobile ARM competitors’ latest chips, but higher than the base Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 processor Apple uses in its 13 inch MacBook Pro!
Apple Pay Cash for iOS 11, watchOS 4 won’t arrive until autumn — iOS 11 is due for release tomorrow. However, one feature, Apple Pay Cash, will arrive in an update to iOS 11 (and watchOS 4) won’t arrive for a while. Apple says it’s coming this fall.
With iOS 11, Apple Pay users will be able to make and receive payments with friends and family quickly and securely. They can send money and get paid right in Messages, or tell Siri to pay someone, using the credit and debit cards they already have in Wallet.
How high dynamic range support enables richer colours on Apple TV 4K —Apple has added high dynamic range, or HDR, to the new Apple TV 4K. AppleInsider explains what the term means as it pertains to 4K video, and how it applies to the new set-top box.
SpeedScriber is a new automated transcription tool for the Mac — Digital Heaven has launched SpeedScriber, an automated transcription tool for Mac. A 60-minute file can be transcribed in less than 10 minutes. Transcripts can be reviewed and edited in the app then printed or exported to multiple formats, including integration with professional video editing apps. Since only the audio from the file is required for the transcription process, all imported media files are converted to a mono audio-only file for upload.
SpeedScriber is available as a free download from the Mac App Store for macOS 10.11.5 or later. A SpeedScriber account is required; it can be created in the app and 15 minutes of free transcribing time is added to new accounts. Additional minutes can be purchased starting at US$.50 per minute, and the duration of each imported file is rounded up to the next whole minute then deducted from the account balance when submitted for transcription.
Keep It 1.0 for the Mac combines notebook and organiser features — Reinvented Software has debuted Keep It 1.0 for the Mac. It combines notebook and organizer features. With Keep It, you can take notes for that idea you need to save, or list you need to make, save web pages as links, and PDFs for offline viewing. The app can be used to edit its own notes, along with rich and plain text files, and can store any kind of file. Keep It will also show summaries, thumbnails and previews for most file formats.
Keep It for Mac 1.0 requires macOS 10.12 Sierra or later, and is available as a 15-day demo that can be unlocked upon purchase. A license costs US$49.99 (about NZ$69). iOS versions are available at the Apple App Store.
Synology launches collection of new products —Synology has launched a new product lineup featuring the DS3018xs, the company’s first 6-bay tower NAS with optional 10GbE and NVMe SATA SSD supports; plus-series DS918+, DS718+, and DS218+ and the value-series DS418.
To allow for high performance using SSD cache without occupying internal drive bays, DS3018xs features a PCIe slot, which can be installed with a dual M.2 SATA SSD adapter card (M2D17). DS918+ comes with dedicated dual M.2 NVMe slots at the bottom where you can directly install M.2 NVMe SSDs. DS418 features 10-bit H.265 4K video transcoding, and while supporting the next-generation Btrfs file system in DSM 6.2 official, expected to release in the first quarter of 2018.
B-Eng introduces Enigma encrypting tool for macOS — B-Eng has introduced Enigma 1.0, a utility to encrypt files on any Mac. According to Christian Schaffner, general manager of B-Eng., it uses military standard and government standard encryption algorithms.
Once a password is set in Eniga, encryption and decryption can tech be done with a single mouse click. It require macOS 10.6 or higher. Enigma 1.0 costs $US2.99/NZ$4.49. It’s available worldwide exclusively at the Mac App Store.
A11 Bionic processor in iPhone 8, iPhone X contains first Apple-designed GPU, new secure element — Apple has brought design and development of the A11 Bionic processor even more in-house with the eradication of outside solutions, allowing the company to speed up and further integrate the new chip’s various processes more than it ever has before. The effort appears to have paid off, from a raw performance perspective. Early benchmarks of devices purporting to use the new chip test the A11 Bionic as notably faster in every regard than the processor found in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8. This new CPU has also allowed Apple to go all-in on augmented reality.
Should you preorder Apple’s iPhone 8, or wait for iPhone X?The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are now available for preorder ahead of next Friday’s launch. But with the iPhone X so close behind, prospective buyers may have a hard time choosing between the two. AppleInsider offers some video insight to help you make your big buying decision. [For me it’s simple: cost.] There is also discussion about the X’s so-called ‘notch‘ in the screen.
Apple removes fake iOS ‘virus-scanning’ apps — Apple has updated its developer app review guidelines for the App Store, and says iPhone antivirus apps aren’t allowed anymore. Fake apps that claim to scan for viruses have been around for a while. But now Apple is banning them[cos there aren’t any viruses, unlike for Android].
Apple starts rolling out 4K HDR iTunes content ahead of Apple TV 4K launch — Apple has begun began rolling out 4K HDR movies on its iTunes Store, content that customers will be able to stream using the company’s new Apple TV 4K set-top box come next week.
Apple airs Apple Watch Series 3 ad showcasing Apple Music over LTE, AirPods support — Apple on Friday posted to its official YouTube channel a new commercial hyping Apple Watch Series 3 and the device’s ability to stream Apple Music over cellular networks.
Mellel 4 targets Mac and iPad Microsoft Word users with indexing and outlining — The popular but niche word processor chiefly used by academics and technical authors has been updated with 95 new features.
More VPN options are coming on stream every week, it seems, while China and Russia move to ban these services. What it VPN? A Virtual Private Network was initially used by companies to keep their internal communications secure. In the age of Wikileaks, voter fraud, hacking and malware, and various agencies tracking searches and information exchanges for political and social reasons, VPN services have become more widely available. Basically, with a VN running, I can sit in Auckland New Zealand but make it seem I am connecting from Sydney, Paris, Singapore … making it hard (or impossible) for anyone to nail down my actual location.
Another benefit is that it allows you to use ‘geolocked’ content. Can’t watch a US hosted video because you are located in New Zealand? Use VPN to connect from Miami or somewhere more hospitable to its geolocation options. Once upon a time, you could get a New Zealand Netflix account but then virtually locate yourself in the US to get a much wider array of content to watch – this became so widespread that Netflix was forced to put a stop to it (dang!).
If you don’t want governmental organisations to collect your data, use a VPN to prevent them from getting your online activities, communications, geographical location, IP address etc.
This bouncing around the world’s servers has a downside of course, and that’s speed, as we found in the review of Norton’s recent VPN offering. The impact can be dramatic, even under ideal conditions (more about this below).
Eltima software has been making handy Mac utilities for a while, like Folx which is a torrent downloader with search with a very usable interface, Commander One (a dual-pane Mac file manager), PhotoBulk resizer and watermarker, and SyncMate. Now the company has chosen to enter the increasingly crowded VPN market with Cargo. This has a couple of extra features: it can automatically detect when you are connected to an insecure public network and encrypt your traffic.
Cargo VPN opens with a handy overlaid guide to what each option does, to get you up and running (below).
Security — While at home or in the office, like any VPN Cargo guards your privacy for paying bills online, or when you check your account balance, log in to social networks or enter your billing address while shopping online. Based on your location you may notice different prices for airfares, car rentals, software subscriptions and even for online streaming services. Try shopping for these things with different country settings using a VPN service and you may be surprised how dramatically different prices can be depending on your geo location. For example, I have heard that if you use a service like Trivago or Hotels.com, if you go there once to check out a price and then return later, perhaps having made up your mind, the prices will have gone up because they have figured out you are returning. I honestly don’t know if this is true, but if it is, returning with VPN on means you won’t be marked as a return visitor. There’s only one question I have – can anyone answer it? That’s this: does the VPN provider get to see your activity across their servers? Because if so, and they in turn get hacked … (Eltima reckons no). Speed — As I said, all this bouncing around the world’s servers impacts on connection speed, and how far away the server you end up using is, and traffic and the efficiency of that server all impacts further on speed.. The new Apple TV with 4K requires at least a 15mbps connection. Most broadband is better than that these days, but even 1 Gigabit Fibre can get choked down to near that low level via WiFi with VPN on as well. Quite why you’d want to use an Apple TV under those conditions is anyone’s guess. Streaming video content illegally? Sure. But public WiFi is usually slower than optimum, partly because it’s choked and/or old and partly due to heavy use.
However, Cargo promises access to over 1000 high-speed servers in more than 70 locations across the world, which ensures instant and constant access through Cargo VPN to any website or service from any continent. I tested it with Ookla’s SpeedTest utility. Via ethernet with WiFi turned off, I was getting a ping of 2 (low number is good), download Mbps of 938 (higher numbers are better for these categories – I have Gigabit Fibre through Vodafone, when it’s working) and 472Mbps upload (above image, left).
With Cargo VPN on, I got a very impressive Ping result of 3, but download of 59.1Mbps and upload of 55.5 Mbps (above image, centre). Another VPN I have, VPN Unlimited (I got this service on one of those cut-price online deals a year or so back) had a pretty hefty Ping of 267, download of 56.5 and upload of 54.8 (above page, right) – I hitched them both to servers in France for this test. As as you can see, quite dramatic speed drops, and roughly conversant with each other apart form the Ping, but there are so many variables involved it’s really not that fair to compare them. Internet traffic and conditions varies wildly second by second. At least we can see a rough parallel – using VPN, even over a fast ethernet connection, cuts speed to about a sixth.
Costs — Cargo VPN is a free app in the Mac App Store, (and there’s a version for iDevices) but you pay to add service. As this type of service becomes more commonplace, it has actually got more expensive. This isn’t cheap. On the good side, you could add a month just before that big trip.
A month of Cargo VPN costs (I assume US) $15.99. 1 year $80.99 (or $6.75 a month) and a three-year subscription costs 149.99 9 (or $4.17 a month). But note that one subscription includes up to 5 Macs in one account. Under ‘Additional slots’ you can add in an iPhone for $1.69/month, or 5 additional deices for $499/month, or 10 for 9.49/month, or click Yearly for yearly options. You can also buy a Personal IP (personal static IP) by region (Canada, Germany, France, UK, Bangalore India, Netherlands or USA and, safest of all, the Personal Server option for the Americas, Europe, Asia & Pacific or click the Special Offer button (currently there are deals for London at $52 per month, or $400/year for 1TB space on your own server, plus similar for Bangalore, San Francisco or Seattle).
Extras — One of the extras available that sets this software apart from others is the Censorship Test. Click this button to initiate the test that gathers anonymous stats on web resources to see what’s blocked in different countries, available to see at the Censor Check website. You get a free day of the VPN subscription added to your account for running it – but you can only run it every 7 days. when I did so, 45 locations were returned as a result with no blockages.
Conclusion — Cargo VPN seems a worthy contender in this increasingly busy field, but out on the road, you’re basically paying to have an even slower connection. I’d have to ask myself, how many times have I actually heard of people getting their data hijacked while they’re sitting in internet cafés, airports or hotels? I can’t actually recall any. It makes more sense to use one because you’re exploring the Dark Web, looking at things you shouldn’t be looking at, making statements and/or plans that security services might find interesting or exchanging privileged information. Not just to keep it secure from security agencies, of course, but also from hackers and scammers. And here’s a sobering thought for you:while it’s true that internet surveillance by various agencies the world over is increasing, and while various agencies and governments are trying to curtail the use of VPNs (thus proving its effectiveness), you can be damned sure that the denizens of those governments and agencies are all using VPN themselves.
What’s great — A solid contender with some nifty extra features. What’s not — Subscription costs soon mount up. Needs — International spies and those with more in their bank accounts than me (actually, anyone with reason to be worried about their online activities and tracking)